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osteopaths, treatment, body, joints, manual and affections

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ORTHOPEDICS. The branch of medicine devoted to the treatment of affections Nvhich lead to morbid changes in the form of hones, joints, etc., and which arc followed by a disturbance of the symmetry of the limbs. Neglected and little developed in former times, orthopedics has now become a greatly developed special science which, by a thorough study of the bones and muscles, and of their functions, rationally and successfully influences and heals the affections with which it concerns itself. The results are generally the more certain and the more permanent, the earlier the affections are recognised and treated. Scientific orthopaedic surgery should not be confounded with osteopathy.

OSTEOPATHY.—This term, which is derived from the Greek osteon, " a bone," and pathos, " suffering," is applied to a curative system which has gained a certain number of followers. This system was invented in 1893, and is based upon the theory that the human body under ordinary circum stances contains within itself the fundamental principles for combating the invasion of disease-producing factors. In other words, the osteopaths claim that the tissues of the body harbour the necessary antidotes for all bacterial poisons, and are, as a rule, able to administer these to any organ when required. When, therefore, a diseased condition does occur, it must needs be due to the circumstance that the body has been prevented from meeting and overcoming the germ ; that is, an obstruction to the fluid con veying the antidote has made it impossible to reach the affected part. Such an obstruction, the osteopaths assert, can be caused only by the 'displacement of some bone. The treatment, therefore, aims at locating the seat of this lesion, and at removing it by mechanical means if possible. Once this has been accomplished, according to the osteopaths, the body will again be able to carry on its normal self-treatment, and to overcome the existing disease without any outside aid. The methods employed consist in manual treatment tending to stimulate the activity of organs, muscles, vessels, and nerves, or to inhibit the functions of certain parts in order to divert more energy to others.

The osteopaths have built up a vast structure of empirical facts (most of which have been known for centuries) to which they have applied their own reasoning. The good that osteopaths, as practitioners, may do should not be confused with the principles of osteopathy.

The benefits to be derived from scientific massage and joint-manipulation are many, no matter what the theories may be in the mind of the manipu lator ; and there are undoubtedly many patients suffering from chronic joint injuries who may be benefited by the enthusiasm and practice of the osteopaths.

Rheumatism is one of the diseases in which the so-called osteopathic treatment might most rationally be indicated, inasmuch as it might be possible in some cases to counteract the local pains by manual irritation of the affected joints. Leaving out of consideration the assertion frequently made by osteopaths, that dislocated joints, sprained tendons, or " twisted " vertebne may be factors in aggravating the pains of a rheumatic condition, it may be said that rough manual massage is very often the only means of exercising the painful parts. And since exercise has a profound influence upon the circulatory functions, there is no denying the fact that such treat ment may benefit the patient to some extent if he be able to stand it. The osteopathic treatment aims at stimulating the activity of the veins and lymphatics by passive massage in the direction of their respective currents. At the same time, the joints are freely exercised in all directions in which the nature of their construction permits them to be moved ; and the muscles are forced into relaxation by kneading, stretching, and rubbing. It being part of the theory of the osteopaths that every ailment is responsive to treatment of the sympathetic nerve-centre supplying the affected organ, an attempt is usually made to locate this ganglion in the spinal cord, and to stimulate the organ by manual treatment of the nerve.

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