Rheumatism is one of the most familiar and perhaps one of the most perplexing of any of the conditions we meet in our work of trying to cure the sick. It is an acute infectious disease of which an exciting cause is exposure to cold and dampness. An individual that has been exposed for a long period of time in working, or living, in cold surroundings, or in poorly ventilated rooms is more susceptible to rheumatic fever. It attacks the strong and vigorous as well as the debilitated and feeble.
This disease may come gradually or suddenly. If gradual, the patient will start with general malaise, headache, chilliness, slight fever, irritability, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, coated tongue, and irregular pains about the joints. If sudden, there will be marked chills with a rapid rise in temperature, and severe pains in one or more joints. With the establishment of the disease the patient becomes very sick.
In many cases there may develop complications: (1) Endocarditis– coming on in a few days, particularly in children. (2) Pericarditis– usually follows joint lesions. This is most common in men. (3) Myocarditis– very often present with pericarditis, and less frequent as a separate complication.
Our success depends largely on the ability of the patient to describe in detail his symptoms, and also our ability to interpret his statements into medical terms.
In my experience, I have found Rhus tox. one of the most common remedies. Poison ivy or Rhus tox. grows in the thickets of North America. The tincture is made of the fresh leaves. Rhus tox. is the chief member of the Anacardiaceae.
1. Anacardium Orientale — From the East.
2. Anacardium Occidentale — Western Cashew Nut.
3. Comocladia Dentata– Southern U.S. and Cuba.
4. Rhus Toxicodendron — Poison ivy.
5. Rhus Glabra– Common Sumac. [ Non-poisonous. Rhus diversiloba, from the Pacific Coast, has also been useful in homoeopathic prescribing. –ED.)].
6. Rhus Radicans — Similar to Rhus tox.
7. Rhus Venenata –Very poisonous variety.
This whole order of plants possesses poisonous properties. Despite their similarities, there is a great difference in their physiological action. There are often cases in which Rhus tox. is complementary to Bryonia.
After a careful study of the case, and a selection of the remedy, we do not always get the result we expect. It may then be necessary to use another remedy, which may be one of the nosodes; this may bring out new symptoms.
Such a case I wish to present at this time.
Feb. 7, 1930. Edward S., age 25.
This young man was tall, slender, and weighed 128. He had been under the care of an “old school” physician for a period of about three weeks.
When I took charge of the case the young man had a normal temperature. His symptoms were: Severe spasmodic pains < by motion; restless, must change positions; in the morning, relieved by continued motion, restlessness < at night, and sleeplessness due to pain. There was pain in the right hand, both shoulders and the left foot. It was < by cold, dampness and rain. The slightest vibration, such as a person walking across the room, caused him intense pain. There was a redness and swelling of painful joints and a profuse sweat of entire body.
There was a tenderness of protruding bones, malleolus of ankles and wrists, and malar or cheek bones. Apprehension was worse at night. He was impatient at the least trifle and intolerant at being talked with. There was also a hard swelling of submaxillary and parotid glands. The patient had a great desire for cold milk. Remedy: Rhus tox. 200 Pulv. 1.
Feb. 8, 1930. The general condition of the young man was improved. He was able to sleep several hours with short periods of wakefulness caused by motion in sleep. His pain was less severe and he was less sensitive to vibration. Temperature was 100.2. Remedy: Placebo.
Feb. 9, 1930. Patient and family much discouraged, due to return of pain and tenderness. The young man was sensitive about the joints, very irritable, and he had developed an acute sensitiveness to cold. He had to be covered with heavy blankets, although the temperature of the room was comfortable. Sweating relieved his pain considerably. The patient also had a severe headache which was worse on the right side and < in the morning. Temperature 101.6 Remedy: Rhus tox. 200.
Feb. 10, 1930. The patient was slightly relieved, and had some sleep; was less irritable, less sensitive to vibration and he was warmer. His relief was of shorter duration than with previous prescriptions of Rhus tox. 200. His temperature was 101.2. Having in mind the shorter duration and less relief, I gave the same remedy in 1M.
Feb. 11, 1930. Again relieved, and he had some sleep. His irritability was less, but had developed a fear he would not recover and showed much anxiety. The patient still had many Rhus tox. symptoms, but in a milder form. Remedy: Placebo.
Feb. 12, 1930. The symptoms had returned but not so severely. The relief from Rhus tox., in the 200th and 1m. was but for 15 to 18 hours. In going over the case again carefully I could not get away from prominent Rhus tox. symptoms so I repeated it again in 10M. As a result the relief was only for a few hours. Forty- eight hours later I gave one powder of CM. potency but there was scarcely any relief, although the symptoms were less severe than at first. I could not understand why, with the symptoms present, I could not get permanent relief from the remedy. I decided to give the young man one powder of Psorinum 200.
Feb. 25, 1930. At this time there was a return of Rhus tox. symptoms in a very severe form, and much fear was exhibited by the family as the patient was now suffering much the same as the first day I saw him. I repeated Placebo and on the next visit he was much improved. From that time on he quickly returned to normal health with but one more dose of Rhus tox. 200. The date of the last prescription was April16, 1930, but he was under observation for several weeks.
I saw the young man in January, 1934, and he had had no return of any rheumatic symptoms and he follows his usual occupation of farmer and gardener.
Feb. 10, 1933. This next case is one of rheumatic arthritis in the left hip joint of a woman thirty-nine years old. She was 5 feet 62 inches tall and weighed 164 pounds. Her occupation was that of a housewife. She had suffered from back-pains since she was eighteen years old. She had had attacks of spasmodic pain since August of 1932.
There was pain at the left side of spine at waist line > lying and sitting. There was < from standing or walking. Standing caused a feeling of pressure at the hip joint and numbness of left foot. There was no perspiration. Her blood pressure was 140. She had been placed on a diet by a former medical attendant and since being on the diet had been very cold. She was much depressed. Remedy: Colocynthis 200.
Feb. 18, 1933. Urine test normal. Short walk or standing caused numbness of foot. She could stand and walk with less distress. Her sleep was more restful. Remedy: Placebo.
March 16, 1933. Weight 167. Slight return of tenderness and numbness of left foot. Remedy: Colocynthis 200.
March 27, 1933. There was a gradual increase in weight and muscles of thigh were relaxed and the leg was back to normal length. She was able to walk, for a reasonable time, without tiring.
April 10, 1933. The patients condition was very much improved. She was able to drive her car without tiring and could walk and stand for long periods of time without distress. She was mentally disturbed because her weight increased to over 170 pounds. Her blood pressure was 138.
May 2, 1933. At this time she was expecting her menses and was suffering from downward pressure in abdomen, unusual for her. There was some pressure on vertex. Remedy: Sepia 200.
Telephone report on June 10, 1933, that she was fully recovered and none of her previous symptoms remained.
Often in cases of rheumatism there may be a return of modified symptoms, but in the cases presented there has been no such return.