Richard III may have gone through painful medical treatments to ‘cure’ his scoliosis

Related Articles

Related Articles

Richard III : Wiki Commons

Richard III may have gone through very painful treatments for his spinal deformity, according to University of Leicester researcher.

Dr Mary Ann Lund, of the University’s School of English, has carried out research into the kinds of scoliosis treatments available at the time Richard III was alive.

 

The remains of Richard III discovered by University of Leicester scientists revealed that the King suffered from severe scoliosis, which he probably developed in early adolescence.

Scoliosis – a lateral or side-to-side curvature of the spine – can be a very painful condition to live with.

But some of the treatments practised in the late medieval period would have themselves caused sufferers a lot of anguish.

Among the “cures” practised was traction – the same principle on which “the Rack” worked as an instrument of torture.

The patient would be tied under the armpits and round the legs. The ropes were then pulled at either end, often on a wooden roller, to stretch the patient’s spine.

The treatment would probably have only been available to those who could afford it.

Richard III would certainly have been able to afford the highest levels of medical care available – and his physicians would have been well aware of the standard “traction” methods for treating the condition.

Dr Lund charted the influence of Greek philosopher Hippocrates – who developed early prototype methods of dealing with spinal disorders – to the 11th century Persian polymath Avicenna.

Avicenna’s treatises on medicine and philosophy were highly regarded in Medieval Europe. His theories on using traction in scoliosis treatment would have been widely read and practised by doctors in Richard III’s lifetime.

Avicenna also advocated the massage techniques practised in Turkish baths, and herbal applications, as treatments for back disorders.  In the longer term, patients might wear a long piece of wood or metal in an attempt to straighten their back.

Dr Lund said: “Scoliosis is a painful illness, and Richard would have been in quite a lot of pain on a daily basis. These methods could also have been very painful – but people would have expected treatments to be unpleasant.

“Medical practices could exacerbate conditions rather than improving them. These treatments would have only been open to people in the upper echelons. Richard would have probably received these treatments because he was a member of the nobility.”

Later methods of treatment for scoliosis included the orthosis, which was developed by French physician Ambroise Paré in the late 16th century.

This was a tightly fitting metal corset for treating scoliosis made by an armourer, which would have been worn by patients to brace the skeleton in an attempt to correct the curvature of the spine.

Contributing Source : University of Leicester

HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

The Modhera Sun Temple

The Sun Temple is an ancient Hindu temple complex located on a latitude of 23.6° (near Tropic of Cancer) on the banks of the Pushpavati river at Modhera in Gujarat, India.

Scientists Hunt For Lost WW2 Bunkers Designed to Hold Off Invasion

New research published by scientists from Keele, Staffordshire and London South Bank Universities, has unveiled extraordinary new insights into a forgotten band of secret fighters created to slow down potential invaders during World War Two.

Sea Ice Triggered the Little Ice Age

A new study finds a trigger for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe from the 1300s through mid-1800s, and supports surprising model results suggesting that under the right conditions sudden climate changes can occur spontaneously, without external forcing.

The Two Fanjingshan Temples

Fanjingshan Temple is actually two temples, located on the “Red Clouds Golden Summit or Golden Peak” on Fanjingshan Mountain (also known as Mount Fanjing), the highest point of the Wuling Mountains in southwestern China.

Venus’ Ancient Layered, Folded Rocks Point to Volcanic Origin

An international team of researchers has found that some of the oldest terrain on Venus, known as tesserae, have layering that seems consistent with volcanic activity. The finding could provide insights into the enigmatic planet's geological history.

Undersea Earthquakes Shake up Climate Science

Despite climate change being most obvious to people as unseasonably warm winter days or melting glaciers, as much as 95 percent of the extra heat trapped on Earth by greenhouse gases is held in the world's oceans.

Raids and Bloody Rituals Among Ancient Steppe Nomads

Ancient historiographers described steppe nomads as violent people dedicated to warfare and plundering.

Ancient Human Footprints in Saudi Arabia Give Glimpse of Arabian Ecology 120000 Years Ago

Situated between Africa and Eurasia, the Arabian Peninsula is an important yet understudied region for understanding human evolution across the continents.

Popular stories

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.