Difficult attempts to open the mouth of the patient and articulate again his jaw. Victim of road accident, this patient has been taken to the hospital. The several surgeries practised on his fractured jaw have failed; the patient is today unable to eat normally.
Stretching exercises on a hemiplegic patient
Violent contortions performed on patients affected by back pains
Contortions on a patient affected by pains, articular movement limitations at the level of his shoulders and his cervical vertebrae.
The clinic of this practitioner specialized in varma therapy and bonesetting, receives every
day eighty to one hundred patients and has forty beds devoted only for ‘orthopedics’ and ‘traumatology’.
The clinics which have a large clientele are often equiped by a X-ray instrument. According to the
practitioners, the radiography is practised essentially to give confidence to the patients who consult
them. This reason throws light on the loss of legitimacy the siddha practitioners have to face today.
Therefore, the introduction of biomedical equipments within siddha clinics is a way to give some
scientificity to their profession.
The bonesetting technique used by this practitioner consists to apply medicated oil on the broken part -this oil favours the bone reconstitution-, then to bandage by putting some bamboo sticks which are cut according to the need. When there is a displacement of bones, like in this case, the practitioner uses violent stretchings and reductions, sometimes by helping himself of his feet and his weight. Nevertheless, these manipulations which are very painful are made very quickly, thanks to the ability and the self-confidence of the practitioners.
The bandage is replaced every week in order to apply again some oil on the broken part. In this clinic, the broken limbs are immobilized between bags of sand.
Every Thursday and Sunday, a bonesetter treats his patients under a small shelter in the garden
of Madurai Siddha Vaithyar Sangham. This association, the oldest of Tamil Nadu, is very involved in
activities promoting Siddha medicine. Every Sunday, it organizes consultations during which patients
receive free medicines. The practitioner, who is also a fairly wealthy landowner, comes from a small
village in the Tirumangalam region. He learned his practice from his father and grandfather.
The method and products used by this practitioner are different from those used by the previous one. He uses little oil for massages, but instead, he prepares a mixture of dried plant powder (curanam) with egg whites in which he soaks his bandages before setting them on the broken or aching part of the body. The curanam plays the role of oil by strengthening bones, while the egg whites, in drying, solidify the bandage. He also uses a powder-based mineral that favours the withdrawal of water in swollen muscular tissues.
The bonesetters are approached by people from all socio-demographic categories. They justify their recourse to bonesetters by the efficiency of treatment which, in the difference of anti-inflammatory medication, has no iatrogenic effects, by rapid healing and the low cost of treatment. These two last justifications make sense when one considers that, in hospitals, particularly in the private ones, surgery and pins setting, even for simple fractures, are widespread. These practices based on greed of money (cost of the operation, filling of the hospital), cause heavy expenditure and a long immobilization. It is not uncommon that practitioners received old people with the broken femur neck. Practitioners set a bandage from the waist to the thigh, by tightening very strong, and advise the patient to keep the bed for one month and half. Walking after such a fracture is never perfect, especially because of the old age of patients, but this type of treatment allows the poor people who could not afford prosthesis, to walk again.