Consumption caused by neglect of the Fret
--Danger of Cutting Corns
The exquisite beauty of the mechanism of the hand, its influence upon the social and intellectual happiness of man, has been the theme of one of the first philosophers of the age, (Sir Charles Bell
, in his Bridgewater Treatise,) and if equal talent and power were devoted to the inquiry concerning the construction of the foot, its singular arrangement of parts, its uses in the great economy of nature — we may affirm that it would not afford less subject for ingenious speculation, nor less admiration of Him who formed it. It would require little skill to show that even our enjoyment of healthy intellect, and our capability of deriving from creation around us the best blessings, are mainly dependent upon that organization by which our locomotion is performed, our power ‘"cŒri convexum tuori
"’ and to hold that upright form which essentially distinguishes man from all living beings which the hand of nature has so profusely made.
The toes are seldom subjects of much attention to us; we are too often content with common attention to cleanliness, and to the length of the nails; all other circumstances pass unheeded by, until our thoughts are compelled to be directed towards them, in consequence of feeling some annoyance or actual pain.
Such, indeed, is the carelessness with which these important parts of the human economy is considered, that even the slightest allusion in society to the subject of corns, is considered by many well-bred people highly indelicate.
A well-instructed young lady would shrink back with horror at any mention being made regarding attention to the feet; and yet, to what disease does it give birth?
We may trace one-half of the Consumption of this country to inattention to the feet, and it is not sufficiently impressed upon the mind, that when Consumption once arises from the neglect of the feet.
It is a matter of the utmost difficulty to cure it.
At the present day we find a large portion of the community, from the highest to the lowest, subject to severe suffering from the inattention of surgeons to the affections to which the feet are subject.
They have generally been considered of so trivial a nature as to be unworthy of their serious inquiry, and have consequently been consigned to a class of men whose supreme ignorance has thrown obloquy upon those who have both the wish and the power to alleviate the pain and prolong life, although at the period when medical science may be said to have dawned the greatest of English physicians, Sydenham
, expressing his anxiety to prevent consumption, deemed that skillful anatomists should not disdain to devote their attention to this neglected portion of surgical art. And, however sneered at as beneath the dignity of science, amply will the inquirer be repaid by the information he must gain, and the power he will possess, in being a contributor to the ease if not happiness of mankind.
There is no part of the human foot in which corus have not occasionally been found; both of the most hardened portions of its integuments have been thus affected.
The soles of the feet, even in their thickest and most sensitive parts, have been studded with those ungainly annoyances; but the little toe is generally found to be their favorite position — a large portion of it is frequently diseased.
The outer joint of the great toe appears, also, to be frequently infested with these excrescences.
These are the more ordinary cases which present themselves to the practitioner, and are those which give great annoyance without probably exciting that excruciating agony which is felt when they appear in other places.--They are found under the nail of the great toe and these are the sources of much irritation.
But there are other positions which they assume, and which are the source of extreme misery to those who have the misfortune to suffer from them.--For instance, the inner portion of the little toe, close to the nail, has been the fruitful cause of such a morbid condition that the whole frame has partaken of it, and I have had occasion to relieve an apparently broken down constitution by means so simple, yet so efficacious as to be looked upon rather as a ministering angel than as an ordinary observer of the effect which may spring from the humblest means.
The roots of the nails have been occasionally the seats of corns, which have produced a high degree of inflammation and tumefication.
These have been ascribed to accidents — nay, to gouty diathesis, while the original cause has been overlooked, because little or no pain has attended their development.
The three small toes are indiscriminately diseased.
Some persons exhibit a peculiar idiosyncrasy in this respect, and in families there will be found a striking predisposition to an unhealthy state in this portion of the integuments of the foot.
The soles of the feet and the heels often exhibit excrescences, varying in the intensity of the symptoms they display — sometimes only those of annoyance, in others of actual pain.
I will not enter minutely into the appearances which have been presented to me during my extensive practice.
The first idea which naturally suggests itself to those who are suffering from any kind of pain, is instantaneous relief, and many are most willing to allow the ‘ "lous et origo mali
"’ to remain, and again to become the fruitful offspring of pain, rather than apply to a skillful operator, even though he can permanently eradicate the dangerous nuisance.
In the cure of a disordered state of the feet, we must oftentimes devote as much attention to the means of palliation as to those of cure, and we shall find that we often gain as much reputation from the public, and estimation in the eyes of our patients by affording them momentary ease, as by the ultimate cure of the disease.
On the other hand, the confidence of the public is so much abused by a class of self-educated and self-extolling practitioners, who pretend to have discovered infallible means of preventing diseases such as we have described, that innumerable difficulties surround the object.
Specifics for all the ills of life are discovered daily and hourly, if the public press is to be taken as our guide; but among the advertisements will be found the bold assertions of some loud proclaimer of his power, and especially in the department to which I have devoted my time and attention.
Plasters, ointments, liniments, and lotions, are all brought before the astonished world as possessing powers infallible.
The maker of these nostrums wraps in becoming mystery his discovery; he obtains a patent for it, signs his own autograph on the stamps; there is necromancy, withcraft and marvellous power in everything he propounds.
According to his own assertions he has never been known to fail; and what chance has he who has devoted his whole life to inquiry, but honestly to confess that the deviations of nature surpass his expectations, that her ways are too often inscrutable, and all that he can do is to study, to learn and to try to cure, without professing that every malady is subject to his superior skill.
Most urgently do I recommend those who are afflicted with corns — however harmless they may appear — however easily removed — never to have recourse to the knife.
They may be assured that, though there may be a vast number of instances in which no bad consequence has attended upon this operation--(a man may jump into the water and not be drowned,) --yet there are so many, and such serious evils which have arisen from it, that no one who has regard for his own comfort and safety should venture upon it. One sad termination outweighs a whole catalogue of fortunate extirpations.
I strenuously recommend those who, suffering from corns, are anxious for relief, never to have recourse to the pen knife, to the razer, or to the scissors, but to place themselves as soon as possible under the management of some one who has been long skilled in their cure.
They will find temporary and sometimes permanent relief, if the affection be but commencing, from plunging the foot into a hot pediluvium, pouring in from time to time hot water, and keeping the diseased part steadily immersed for at least an hour.
The foot should then be assiduously rubbed for a considerable length of time with a dry, rough towel; the friction need not be confined to the immediate surface of the corn, but rather on the integument immediately in contact with it. In the greater number of instances this process will be followed by the loosening of the callous substance; there will be neither pain nor uneasiness left; sleep will be uninterrupted by any disagreeable sensations.
Although the corn will remain, still relief is obtained, without the danger which cutting may produce.
It is impossible to be completely rid of a corn, unless extirpated by a skillful and experienced operator.
I have before observed, never should the apparently simple appearance of a hard corn, or ‘ "clavus durus,"’ lead to the use of a knife by a patient, for, although there may be nothing from which a result could be anticipated — no external characteristics which give the least indications that evil will be the consequence of a meddle-some practice — yet the most serious consequences may result therefrom; and when too late there will be cause for the deepest regret.
If I appear somewhat tedious in this matter — if I have been guilty of repetitions — I trust that I may be excused for my earnestness, and an anxiety on a subject of which I conceive of more importance, almost, than any rules I could lay down.
It is a maxim I would have a starting taught to repeat — it is a sentence which should be repeated in the ear of every sufferer from corns — it is a voice which should be echoed back on every occasion--‘"do not use A knife."’ if, after such a warning, there should be any sufficiently venturesome to neglect it, the danger be on his own head, but the repentance will come too late.
The most appalling spasms, convulsions terrible to behold, and lockjaw, have attended on the wounding a branch of a nerve by a common pen knife, as also hemorrhage, scarcely to be arrested.
I am not fond of giving cases, for I am sorry to find that every empyric who practices any branch of the medical profession fancies that the true avenue to employment is to narrate extraordinary cases, whether founded on fact or not, because he fancies that people will see something in what they read which may remind them of their own suffering.
I will only allude to the death of Lord Daruly by wounding a nerve on his great toe, and also to the case referred to in the memoirs of the Duchess
d' abrantes; it will be seen at the end of the second volume.
I could refer to a vast number of examples which I have encountered during my short stay here, if I thought it necessary to add to the testimony which I here bear to the sad result of using the knife.
, Spotswood Hotel.