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Part 67

When the joints of the toes or hands are dislocated, and the bones protrude through a wound which they have made, and when there is no fracture of the bone, but merely displacement of the joint, in these cases, if the reduction be made and allowed to remain, there is some danger of spasms (tetanus?) if not properly treated, and yet it may be worth while to reduce them, having warned the patient beforehand that much caution and care will be required. The easiest, the most efficient method, and the one most conformable to art, is that by the lever, as formerly described when treating of bones which have been fractured and protruded; then the patient must be as quiet as possible, lie in a recumbent position, and observe a restricted regimen. And it will be better also that he should get some gentle emetics. The sore is to be treated with dressings for fresh wounds, which permit of allusions, or with the leaves of camomile, or with the applications for fractured bones of the head, but nothing very cold must be applied. The first (most distant?) joints are least dangerous, but those still higher, are more so. [p. 265]Reduction should be made the same day, or the next, but by no means on the third or fourth, for it is on the fourth day that exacerbations especially attack. In those cases, then, where immediate reduction cannot be accomplished, we must wait until after the aforesaid days; for whatever you reduce within ten days, may be expected to induce spasm. But if the spasm supervene on its being reduced, the joint should be quickly displaced, and bathed frequently with warm water, and the whole body should be kept in a warm, soft, and easy condition, and more especially about the joints, for the whole body should rather be in a bent than in an extended state. Moreover, it is to be expected, that the articular extremities of the bones of the fingers will for this generally happens, if even the least degree of inflammation take place, so that if it were not that the physician would be exposed to censure, owing to the ignorance of the common people, no reduction should be made at all. The reduction of the bones of joints which have protruded through the skin, is attended with the dangers which have been described.

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