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JoNightshade
05-30-2008, 03:28 AM
The wikipedia entry describing the rack (as in, the torture instrument) has a small bit that reads as follows:

"...once muscle fibers have been stretched past a certain point they lose their ability to contract, thus victims who were released had ineffective muscles as well as problems arising from dislocation."

I do have a character (in an upcoming project) who needs to be incapacitated, and this strikes me as a very effective method. :)

I was wondering if anyone with more knowledge about this could elaborate on "ineffective muscles." Does this mean the person would be totally limp or what? Like a rag-doll? Would it get better over time? And what problems come from dislocation?

Histry Nerd
05-30-2008, 07:42 AM
Hey, Jo -

I'm not a doc, but I know generally enough about injuries to get myself in trouble. Hopefully Colorado Guy or one of our other docs will swing by and give you a better answer than mine, but here goes:

The stretched muscles probably range from micro-tears in the muscle fibers, causing the muscle itself to elongate, to actual separation of the sinews from the bone. The former condition would cause a dramatic loss of strength (like rendering a strong man unable to stand) that may heal in a few days or weeks as the muscles knit back together. The latter would cause partial or total loss of the use of the member to which the muscle was attached (because if the muscle isn't attached to the bone, it doesn't matter how strong it is--that bone isn't going anywhere), and may be permanent without surgery to correct it. I think portraying a man just pulled off the rack as limp like a rag doll is probably a petty good approximation.

As to the dislocation--if you've ever pulled a drawer out too far and had it come off its rails, you're familiar with the concept; the drawer will not go back in correctly until you put it back on the rails. It's the same with a dislocated joint. Our bones have to fit together precisely in order for our bodies to function correctly. A dislocated joint could result in anything from reduced range of motion to hyperextension (in which the joint bends the wrong way) to a shortened or elongated joint in which motion is virtually impossible. A simple form of dislocation is Hollywood's favorite, the shoulder popped out of its socket until the hero pops it back in by slamming it against a wall or something. An extreme form is a shoulder thrown violently out of joint, so much so that the end of the long bone ends up behind the scapula and the arm itself is visibly shortened even though the bone itself is intact. I have heard of that happening in auto accidents.

Of course, either of these conditions will hurt like hell. The pain of a simple dislocation will often be relieved (although not completely) when the bone is popped back into place; but the stretched muscles will remain sore for days or weeks, and if the sinews are torn the pain may be a more-or-less permanent condition.

Again, this is educated guesswork, but it may be enough to get you started until somebody who knows comes along.

Hope it helps.
HN

Bmwhtly
05-30-2008, 06:53 PM
The only thing I can pop in here is Guy Fawkes.

I'm sure Wikipedia (or Google) will have Fawkes' signature before and after racking. Hopefully that might give you an idea of how... effective it is.

Calla Lily
05-30-2008, 10:23 PM
Bmwhtly, you piqued my curiosity. Here's the link to a.pdf kids'-type article: Guy Fawkes (http://www.langedizioni.com/varie/festivities/festivities_day/langprimary7_p13.pdf).

And here are the sigs. Bottom one is before, top is after.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/24/Guy_fawkes_torture_signatures.jpg/180px-Guy_fawkes_torture_signatures.jpg

:eek:

L M Ashton
05-31-2008, 04:18 PM
The wikipedia entry describing the rack (as in, the torture instrument) has a small bit that reads as follows:

"...once muscle fibers have been stretched past a certain point they lose their ability to contract, thus victims who were released had ineffective muscles as well as problems arising from dislocation."

I do have a character (in an upcoming project) who needs to be incapacitated, and this strikes me as a very effective method. :)

I was wondering if anyone with more knowledge about this could elaborate on "ineffective muscles." Does this mean the person would be totally limp or what? Like a rag-doll? Would it get better over time? And what problems come from dislocation?
Well, I'm not normal, but I've dislocated more joints than can possibly be counted. I'm hypermobile by nature (caused by a genetic collagen defect) and regularly subluxate (partially dislocate) and dislocate joints. The worst are my shoulders, which, on a very bad day, will subluxate/dislocate upwards of 50 times in a day.

From my experience, the muscles become painful and weak and incapable of doing the work it previously could. When I was younger, I was very strong and could lift more than most guys my age. Whenever I moved, it was me and another guy moving my couch, my freezer, or whatever - just to give you an idea. Back then, my shoulders hadn't started the pathway towards frequent dislocations.

But now, I have problems on many days lifting even two or five pounds. I have difficulty cutting onions or carrots or butchering a chicken. Butchering a chicken used to take me perhaps five minutes but now takes me 30 to 45 minutes. I have to take frequent breaks. I have to adjust the angle of my wrist or elbow. I have to use my other hand to help put pressure on the knife enough so it'll get through the bone. (Although now we buy chicken parts so it's much less work for me, but this is to give you an idea.) Typing at my notebook is more difficult than it used to be given that I have to use my arm muscles to hold my elbows at a specific position, and it puts strain on, well, everything. Since the shoulders are now weak, it puts more strain on the other joints and muscles as they do more work trying to compensate. It takes effort and thought to consider the best way to place my arms to carry out various tasks - all stuff that you and pretty much everyone else does with no thought whatsoever.

Standing is similar. Most people just stand. I have to centre my gravity carefully to make sure neither my hips, knees, ankles, or foot bones dislocate or subluxate. Then I have to adjust for back pain. Then I have to adjust again for... It's a constant never ending adjustment. Walking requires more effort than you could probably imagine just to get down the hallway to the bathroom. Oh, can't put too much weight there - the ankle hurts too much...

Then there's the bone damage. Dislocate too much or too often and the bones can rub each other and wear them down. Ouch. Very ouch.

For me, the western medical community (those who are aware of this genetic defect) offer no hope. It will never get better. There is no cure. There is no treatment. The Ayurvedic community is different. There is medicine. It does help. The stuff I drink tastes oh-my-hideousness-embodied horrid and I have a stinky smelly rotten-fish-with-garlic-and-Italian-seasoning-smelling paste that I put on whatever joints once a week (it actually ends up being applied to about half my body, but I won't bore you with more details) for two hours and the joint pain is decreased, as are the dislocations and subluxations. But this doesn't heal the muscle fibers, I don't think, although I reallly don't know. I believe this is for treating the ligaments. Tendons? I always get them confused... Well, as I think of it, this paste is used for twisted ankles and the like, so maybe it does both. I have no idea. The doc barely speaks English. :D

At any rate, I have no idea about damage from the rack. This is just my experience with dislocations and subluxations.

If I can answer any questions, let me know. :)

JoNightshade
05-31-2008, 09:44 PM
Wow, LM - so sorry you have to suffer with this! It sounds really awful. But thank you so much for sharing, I really appreciate it. And yeah, it does help big time!

Oh, one question. When you say you are constantly having to adjust (posture, arms, whatever), are you doing this to avoid pain or to avoid dislocation? (ie if you don't hold your arm the right way your shoulder will pop out?)

L M Ashton
06-01-2008, 05:25 AM
Both. There's always the risk of dislocation for any joint - always - whether it's from standing, walking, brushing my teeth, whatever. And the pain is nearly constant. I think the last time I was painfree for longer than five minutes was... 1992. It's also because it takes us like three or five times as much energy just to stand, so we get exhausted sooner, we wear out sooner, we get dizzy sooner, we fall over sooner. And we do fall over.

Another consideration. I can't do things that other people take for granted. Like sports - that's out. Contact sports would likely result in me not being able to walk again (the doc warned me about this, actually). Bikes put my hips and pelvic bones out, plus leaning forward wrecks my back. Since I can barely walk without looking like I'm 85 (I'm 40), that's about as much as I can do, and even walking can be problematic on a bad day. Water exercises tend to be the best thing for people with what I have - it takes the load off the joints. Core exercises are stressed, so pilates, if the teacher knew about hypermobility, would be good. Yoga is absolutely out mostly because we forget how hypermobile we are and, honestly, we don't know what's normal, so we tend to overstretch everything, which just makes it worse.

Until we know better, we tend to show party tricks with our joints. Like I can touch my thumb to my wrist either forward or backward. Like my fingers bend backwards to less than a 90 degree angle with the back of my hand. Like I can dislocate anything anytime I want. My ribs dislocate when I have a bad cough. My neck is constantly hurting because it floats around. The problem is, all this causes permanent damage.

We tend to be very clumsly, walking into walls and doors. It's partially because our center of gravity floats around as our joints are very fluid, and partially because we have much less control over our joints and muscles as everyone else. I can trip on a hair on the floor.

If your character is female and will be undergoing pregnancy, it gets even more complicated. A weak pelvic floor (the pelvic bones dislocate easily as well and when they do, they tend to grind together) would mean bedrest from the moment she knew about the pregnancy if she wanted to keep her baby. Otherwise, her pelvic floor wouldn't necessarily be strong enough to keep the baby in. Of course, with us, this is complicated further because our internal organs can be hooped as well with the connective tissue keeping the internal organs in place also being defective, so how much is one and how much the other, I don't know.

Glad I can help. Let me know if you have any more questions. :)

L M Ashton
06-01-2008, 05:55 AM
Also, the more severe cases of hypermobility and such end up in wheelchairs due to that much dislocating that they can't walk. Of course, there's also a vicious cycle that leads to this for the more severe cases. Lack of activity leads to muscle weakness which leads to more joint instability which leads to less activity which leads to more muscle weakness which leads to more joint instability... Wheelchair. It gets progressively worse over time. I don't know if this is the case for victims of the rack.