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Part 30

The jaw-bone, in few cases, is completely dislocated, for the zygomatic process formed from the upper jaw-bone (malar?) and the bone behind the ear (temporal?) shuts up the heads of the under jaw, being above the one (condyloid process?), and below the other (coronoid process?). Of these extremities of the lower jaw, the one, from its length, is not much exposed to accidents, while the other, the coronoid, is more prominent than the zygoma, and from both these heads nervous tendons arise, with which the muscles called temporal and masseter are connected; they have got these names from their actions and connections; for in eating, speaking, and the other functional uses of the mouth, the upper jaw is at rest, as being connected with the head by synarthrosis, and not by diarthrosis (enarthrosis?): but the lower jaw has motion, for it is connected with the upper jaw and the head by enarthrosis. Wherefore, in convulsions and tetanus, the first symptom manifested is rigidity of the lower jaw; and the reason why wounds in the temporal region are fatal and induce coma, will be stated in another place. These are the reasons why complete dislocation does not readily take place, and this is another reason, because there is seldom a necessity for swallowing so large pieces of food as would make a man gape more than he easily can, and dislocation could not take place in any other position than in great gaping, by which the jaw is displaced to either side. This circumstance, however, contributes [p. 229]to dislocation there; of nerves (ligaments?) and muscles around joints, or connected with joints, such as are frequently moved in using the member are the most yielding to extension, in the same manner as well-dressed hides yield the most. With regard, then, to the matter on hand, the jaw-bone is rarely dislocated, but is frequently slackened (partially displaced?) in gaping, in the same manner as many other derangements of muscles and tendons arise. Dislocation is particularly recognized by these symptoms: the lower jaw protrudes forward, there is displacement to the opposite side, the coronoid process appears more prominent than natural on the upper jaw, and the patient cannot shut his lower jaw but with difficulty. The mode of reduction which will apply in such cases is obvious: one person must secure the patient's head, and another, taking hold of the lower jaw with his fingers within and without at the chin, while the patient gapes as much as he can, first moves the lower jaw about for a time, pushing it to this side and that with the hand, and directing the patient himself to relax the jaw, to move it about, and yield as much as possible; then all of a sudden the operator must open the mouth, while he attends at the same time to three positions: for the lower jaw is to be moved from the place to which it is dislocated to its natural position; it is to be pushed backward, and along with these the jaws are to be brought together and kept shut. This is the method of reduction, and it cannot be performed in any other way. A short treatment suffices, a waxed compress is to be laid on, and bound with a loose bandage. It is safer to operate with the patient laid on his back, and his head supported on a leather cushion well filled, so that it may yield as little as possible, but some person must hold the patient's head.

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