Among the many methods which can be employed for the treatment of minor illnesses by the home doctor, is massage. Massage, of course, is really a highly specialized form of treatment, and those who are properly trained in it have to spend a good many years in perfecting themselves in the technic. But for many minor ailments the amateur physician in the home can learn to do some simple manipulations, especially when financial circumstances do not permit the expense of a trained masseur.
Lumbago or backache of any kind can frequently be relieved by having the sufferer lie down, face down, and relaxing the muscles of the back along the spine, and kneading or rubbing these muscle masses with the fingers or open palm. Another good method of treating backache is to put a light layer of grease or vaseline on the affected area, cover it with a double thickness of woolen blanket, and take an iron, heated so that you can just bear to have the skin against it, and rub this up and down on top of the blanket over the painful area until a good area of redness has been developed.
Ankle sprains and minor injuries of that kind can also be treated by manipulation after the first period of recuperation by rest has ended. The surface of the joint can be rubbed and stroked. Then, with one hand on the foot and another one on the leg, the joint moved in all directions in order to help recovery of functional activity.
Headaches are frequently relieved by massaging the neck, particularly at the base of the skull and over the forehead.
Besides massage and water, other forms of physical therapy are exercise and occupational therapy. Exercise is probably one of the most frequent prescriptions that the amateur physician gives himself, and with some qualifications and restrictions it usually does good. It is better in the young than in the old, and if followed by a sense of fatigue rather than elation, should not be continued.
Rest, for most things, is better than exercise.
Special exercises, such as muscle training to restore function to a group of muscles that has been incapacitated from injury or disease, should be prescribed by the physician, but can easily be carried out at home, under the direction of an intelligent member of the family. It is, by the way, a good thing to appoint some member of the family to this capacity, because if left alone, the invalid will frequently weary of well doing, and give up the good work before it is finished.