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Part 3

But another physician putting the arm into the state of supination, gives orders to extend the arm thus, and bandages it in this position, reckoning it the one according to nature, judging thus from the skin, and also fancying the bones to be thus in their natural position, because the bone which protrudes at the wrist, where the little finger is, appears to be in a line with the bone from which people measure the bone of the fore-arm. These things he brings forward as proofs that the parts are in their natural state, and he is supposed to speak correctly. But, indeed, if the arm be kept stretched in a supine position, it will become very painful, and this fact any one may ascertain by extending his own arm in this attitude. And also a weaker man grasping with his hands a stronger man whose arm is turned in a supine position, could lead him wherever he chose, and neither, if a man held a sword thus in his hand, could he make any proper use of it, so constrained is this position. And, moreover, if, when a physician has thus bound up the arm, he allow it to remain in the same position, the patient will endure greater pain if he walk about, but considerable, even if he remain at rest. And thus, too, if he shall bend the arm, the muscles and the bones must necessarily assume a different position. But, in addition to other mischief, he is ignorant of these facts regarding the position, that the bone which protrudes at the wrist, close to the little finger, belongs to the fore-arm, whereas the one at the joint, from which people measure the fore-arm, is the head of the humerus. He fancies that both these belong to the same bone, and many others are of this opinion. The latter, in fact, is the same part as that which is called the elbow, upon which we sometimes rest, and when he holds the arm thus in a supine position, in the first place the bone appears distorted, and in the next place the tendons which extend from the carpus along the inner side and from the fingers become distorted while the arm has a supine position; for these tendons proceed to the bone of the humerus, from which the fore-arm is measured. Such, and so[p. 174] many mistakes and marks of ignorance are committed, regarding the natural construction of the arm. But if one will extend a broken arm as I direct, he will turn the bone, situated at the extremity of the little finger, into the straight line, and also the one at the elbow, and the tendons which stretch from the carpus to the extremity of the humerus will be placed in the straight line; and when the arm is suspended in a sling, it will be in the same attitude as that in which it was bound up, and will give no pain to the patient when he walks about, nor when he lies reclined, and will not become fatigued. The man should be so seated that the prominent part of the bone may be turned to the brightest light which is at hand, so that the operator in making the extension, may be at no loss to discover if it be sufficiently straight. The prominence of a broken bone could not escape being detected by the hand of an experienced person, when applied for this purpose, and, moreover, the projecting part is particularly painful to the touch.

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