In conclusion I wish to make the suggestion that even a homoeopathic physician could increase his armamentarium and curative facilities if he would be willing to investigate and study the technique and therapeutic value of some of our simpler physical treatments. Most of us do not appreciate what we could do with our hands and the therapeutic value they possess.

Strictly speaking, surgery is only a group of modalities or that branch of medical science called physiotherapy, because it employs physical means in the treatment of disease and not internal medication.

Generally it can be divided into two main groups, constructive and destructive surgery. Constructive surgery is that group of operations which repairs, corrects and improves physical conditions, whether due to injuries or physical deformities. In this group may be included cleansing, suturing and dressing wounds of all kinds; setting fractured bones and correcting deformities; and repair of external and internal injuries, whether caused by childbirth, disease or accidents.

The destructive group consists of operations for the removal of part or parts of the body, whether internal organs or external parts. It cannot be considered curative in the strict meaning of the word, because it does not remove the cause of the disease, only the end products of diseased organs or other parts of the body.

Constructive surgery is always beneficial to the patient and every good homoeopathic physician should recognize the value and importance of this form of treatment whenever he deals with patients who may be in need of it.

The destructive branch, on the other hand, should not be used to the extent it is today. Although recognizing the necessity of using this form of surgery in some cases, yet I do not hesitate to state that a great percentage of modern destructive surgery could be avoided if surgeons and physicians of all schools possessed a better working knowledge of the therapeutic value of simple physical treatments in combination with proper diet.

Of course, the homoeopathic physician who understands the range of action as well as the correct use of the internal remedy has the advantage of physicians of other schools, but even he may be obliged to call in the service of destructive surgery to remove a diseased organ or a part of a body that cannot be saved. But if he would know how to use simple physical treatments he may save a still greater number of his so-called surgical cases from the surgeon’s knife.

The main object of this paper is to point out the therapeutic value of physical treatments and not to discuss ordinary surgical procedure to any length, hence I shall not take your time to go further into this subject. But I wish to invite your attention to the discussion of a few of the simpler physiotherapy modalities that are easily mastered and can be applied in the office of a general practitioner of the homoeopathic school.

In discussing physiotherapy and its therapeutic value before a body of homoeopathic physicians, the question naturally arises: Is there a sound anatomical and physiological base in the human constitution for physical treatments? Do these treatments actually have a curative value or only a psychological effect, making the patient think he is getting something more for his money than just a few sweet powders or tablets; and do simple physical treatments suppress the disease symptoms and interfere with the action of potentized medicine?.

Before attempting to answer these questions I want to define what is usually understood by physical therapy. This branch of medical science includes many groups of modalities, each one having an entirely different physiological action and used for different therapeutic purposes.

Of course, many of these modalities may be somewhat similar in nature and overlap each other in physiological action and therapeutic effect, nevertheless the various groups must be considered individually as to their physiological action and their therapeutic value.

The following are the most commonly used modalities of this branch of medicine: Hydrotherapy, which includes the use of water in various ways for therapeutic purposes. Heliotherapy, which includes the use of heat and light rays for their therapeutic effect. Electrotherapy, which takes in all the various electrical modalities and therapeutic usage. Manual therapy, which includes all forms of manual manipulations of the organs and structures of the body by the operator’s hands. Of these osteopathy, chiropractic and medical gymnastics are the best known and the most generally used ones. Of course, osteopathy and chiropractics claim to be distinct systems of medicines in themselves and absolutely independent of all other forms of treatments and medications.

But when properly understood in connection with other physical modalities and forms of treatment they can only be considered as part of manual therapy. Medical gymnastics, which include massage and active movements either by the patient or the operator, does not claim the distinction of being a separate system of medicine, but when properly understood and applied ranks highly and compares favorably with either osteopathy or chiropractic and can be more readily mastered by the physician.

Gustavus A. Almfelt
Gustavus A. Almfelt, MD