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31 Joint troubles in the hands and feet are very frequent and persistent, such as occur in cases of podagra and cheiragra. these seldom attack eunuchs or boys before coition with a woman, or women except those in whom the menses have become suppressed. Upon the commencement of pain blood should be let; for when this is carried out at once in the first stages it ensures health, often for a year, sometimes for always. Some also, when they have washed themselves out by drinking asses' milk, evade this disease in perpetuity; some have obtained lifelong[p. 457] security by refraining from wine, mead and venery for a whole year; indeed this course should be adopted especially after the primary attack, even although it has subsided. But if the malady has already become established, it may be possible to act with more freedom in those seasons in which the pain tends to remit; but he should adopt more careful treatment at those times in which it recurs, which is generally in spring or autumn. Now when the pain requires it, in the morning the patient should be rocked; then carried to a promenade; there he should move about, and in the case of podagra he should take short turns at sitting down and walking about: next before taking food and without entering the bath itself, but in a hot room, he should be gently rubbed, sweated, and then douched with lukewarm water: the food following should be of the middle class; diuretics are given with it, and an emetic whenever he is of a fuller habit. When the pain is very severe, it makes a difference whether there is an absence of swelling, or a swelling with heat, or swellings which already hardened. For if there is no swelling, hot foments are needed. Either sea-water, or strong brine should be heated, then poured into a vessel; and as soon as he can bear it, the man puts his feet in, over the vessel is spread a cloak, and over him a blanket; after that hot water is poured over the lip of the vessel, a little at a time, to prevent the contents from losing heat: and then at night heating plasters are applied, especially mallow root boiled in wine. But if there is swelling and heat, refrigerants are more useful, and the joints may be rightly held in very cold water, but not every day, nor for long, lest the sinews become hardened. There is to be applied[p. 459] also a cooling plaster; this, however, is not to be kept on for long, but a change made to those which soothe as well as repress. If pain is greater, rind of poppy-heads is to be boiled in wine, and mixed with wax-salve made up with rose oil; or wax and lard, equal parts, are melted together, and then the wine mixed with these; and as soon as this application becomes hot, it is to be removed and another immediately put on. But if the swellings have grown hard and are painful, the application of a sponge frequently squeezed out of oil and vinegar, or out of cold water, or the application of pitch, wax and alum, equal parts mixed, gives relief. There are also several emollients suitable alike for the hands and feet. But if the pain does not allow of anything being put on, when there is no swelling, the joint should be fomented with a sponge which has been dipped in a warm decoction of poppy-head rind, or of wild cucumber root, next the joints are smeared with saffron, poppy-juice and ewe's milk. But if there is a swelling, this ought to be bathed with a tepid decoction of mastic or some other repressant vervain, and then covered with a medicament composed of bitter almonds pounded up in vinegar, or of white lead, to which has been added the juice of pounded pellitory. The stone, too, which corrodes flesh, which the Greeks call sarcophagos, is carved out so as to admit the feet; when these are painful, they are inserted and held there, and are usually relieved. In Asia Minor Assian limestone is held in esteem for this purpose. When pain and inflammation have subsided, which should happen within forty days, unless the patient is in fault, gentle exercise, spare diet, soothing anoint-[p. 461]ings, are to be employed, provided that also then the joints may be rubbed with an anodyne salve or with a liquid wax-salve of cyprus oil. But riding on horseback is harmful for those with podagra. Those, too, in whom joint-pains tend to recur at certain seasons ought both to take precautions beforehand as to their diet, lest there should be a surfeit of harmful material in the body, and to use an emetic the most frequently; and those in any anxiety as to their body should make use of clystering, or of purgation by milk. This treatment for those with podagra was rejected by Erasistratus, lest a flux directed downwards might fill up the feet, though it is evident that any purgation extracts, not only from the upper parts, but also from the lower as well.
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