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6 From the head we pass to the neck, which is liable to harm from diseases of considerable[p. 377] gravity. There is, however, no disease more distressing, and more acute, than that which by a sort of rigor of the sinews, now draws down the head to the shoulder-blades, now the chin to the chest, now stretches out the neck straight and immobile. The Greeks call the first opisthotonus, the next emprosthotonus, and the last tetanus, although some with less exactitude use these terms indiscriminately. These diseases are often often fatal within four days. If the patients survive this period, they are no longer in danger. They are all treated by the same method and this is agreed upon, but Asclepiades in particular believed in blood-letting, which some said should be particularly avoided, because the body was then especially in need of that heat which was in the blood. But this is false; for it is not in the nature of the blood to be especially hot, but of all that composes man, the blood most quickly turns, now hot, now cold. Still, whether or no it ought to be let, can be learnt from the instructions concerning blood-letting (II.10, 11). But anyhow it is right to give castory, and with it pepper or laser; further, a warm and moist fomentation is needed. For this purpose most pour hot water freely at intervals over the neck. This affords temporary relief, but renders the sinews more susceptible to cold, a thing certainly[p. 379] to be avoided. It is, therefore, more beneficial, first to anoint the neck with a liquid wax-salve, then to apply ox-bladders or leathern bottles filled with hot oil, or else a hot meal plaster, or a pod of round pepper crushed up in a fig. The best thing, however, is to foment with moistened salt according to the method already described (II.17.9, 10; 33.1). Whatever meanwhile is being done, the patient should be brought near a fire, or into the sun in hot weather, and old oil in particular should be rubbed into his neck, shoulder-blades and spine; or if that is not at hand, Syriac oil, or if not even that, oldest lard. Rubbing applied to the whole length of the vertebrae is beneficial, but especially so to those of the neck. Therefore, with certain intervals however, this procedure should be carried out both by day and by night. During such intervals some kind of an emollient composed of heating substances should be put on. Cold is especially to be guarded against; and so there ought to be a fire kept burning constantly in the room in which the patient is lying, especially during the hours before dawn, when the cold is particularly intense. It is not unserviceable to keep the head closely clipped, moistened with hot iris or cyprus oil, and covered by putting on a cap; sometimes even to submerge the patient either in hot oil, or in hot water in which fenugreek has been boiled and a third part of oil added. If the bowels also have been moved by a clyster, this often relaxes the upper parts. Should the pain grow even still more severe, cups should be applied to the neck after the skin has been incised; or the same spot is to be burnt either with the cautery, or by mustard. When the pain has been relieved and the neck begins to be[p. 381] moved, it can be recognized that the disease is yielding to treatment. But for a long while food which has to be chewed should be avoided; sops and eggs, raw or soft boiled, are to be used; any kind of soup may be taken. But if the patient has done well, and the neck appears to be all right, then will be the time to begin with pulse porridge, or well-moistened crumbled bread. He is to chew bread, however, earlier than to drink wine, because the use of wine is particularly risky, and so ought to be deferred for a longer time.
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