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14 The same fate awaits those whose spinal vertebrae have been dislocated; for this cannot happen without rupture of the marrow in the middle of them, and of the two little membranes which pass oust between the two processes at the side, and of the sinews which hold them together. But the vertebrae may slip pout both backwards and forwards, above the diaphragm or below it. The direction of the displacement is indicated either by a swelling or by a hollow at the back. If it happens above the diaphragm, there is paralysis of the arms, and vomiting or spasm follow, breathing is difficult, pain is severe, and hearing blunted. If below the diaphragm, the lower limbs are paralysed, the urine is suppressed, or sometimes is passed involuntarily. From such accidents the man dies more slowly than when the head is displaced, yet within three days. As for what Hippocrates said, that when a vertebra has been displaced backwards, the man is to be laid out on his face, and stretched out, while an assistant presses his heel upon the displaced bone and pushes it inwards, that procedure is only to be adopted when the bone has slipped out a little, not if there is a total displacement. For occasionally weakness of the sinews causes a vertebra, although not displaced, to project a little, either backwards or forwards. This is not a fatal accident, but we cannot press upon a vertebra from within; it cannot even be touched; and if it is pressed upon from outside,[p. 569] it generally slips back again, unless, as very rarely happens, the strength of the sinews is renewed.
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