Resource Center

Glossary

A-D E-H I-L M-P Q-Z

A-D

Achilles tendinitis

An inflammation of the Achilles tendon usually caused by overuse.

Achilles tendon

The largest, strongest tendon in the body connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone. It enables people to walk, run and jump.

Acromioclavicular, or AC joint

The joint that joins the scapula (shoulder blade) to the clavicle.

Aerobic exercises

Exercises to help improve circulation, the overall function of your body and help prevent weight gain. These exercises are moderate intensity for a time period of at least 30 minutes with a minimum of a 5 minute warm up at 50-60% of maximum heart rate followed by at least 20 minutes of 70-80% intensity and finally a minimum of 5 minutes of 50-60% intensity cool down.

Ankle bone

The ankle bone, or talus, is formed where the foot and the leg meet.

Ankle joint

The joint where the ankle bone and the ends of the tibia and fibula, the two lower leg bones, meet. This joint is supported and stabilized by three groups of ligaments to hold the bones and joint in place.

Anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL

A ligament that connects from the front of the tibia to the back of the femur. Its function is to limit rotation and forward motion of the tibia.

Arthritis

A medical condition characterized by acute or chronic inflammation which causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints. Warning signs of arthritis can include: tenderness or joint pain when touched, problems using or moving a joint normally, warmth and redness in a joint.

Arthrograms

An x-ray of a joint that has been injected with a contrast material.  Contrast material may leak into an area where it does not belong, indicating a tear or opening, or be blocked from entering an area where there normally is an opening indicating an obstruction.  This test is helpful to   diagnose if a disease or injury is present.

Arthroscope

A small, tubular instrument, frequently with a camera attached, that is inserted into a joint through a small incision.  The arthroscope is used to visualize the internal structures of a joint.

Arthroscopic surgery

A surgical procedure that involves making small incisions near a joint (for example, a knee). An arthroscope is then inserted through the incision. This procedure allows the provider to view the damaged area and to repair damaged structures. Arthroscopic surgery is usually fairly quick, involves a minimum level of discomfort, and has a good success rate.

Atrophy

The weakening or lessening of ability to some part or organ of the body caused by injury, disease, or lack of use.

Bone scan

A technique for creating images of bones on a computer screen. A contrast material is injected into the bloodstream. The material then collects in the bones and in any abnormal areas, and is detected by a scanner.  It is also known as radionuclide scanning.

Brace

A support used to stabilize an injury.

Bursa sacs

The fluid-filled membranes within and around joints. Bursa sacs cushion the joints and help to minimize friction between the bones and muscles.

Bursitis

A common joint injury occurring when the bursa, the small fluid-filled sacs cushioning the joint, become inflamed. Common causes of bursitis are:  disease (such as arthritis) and athletic or other activities causing overuse of the affected joint.

Cardiovascular

Relating to the heart or blood vessels. Also known as the circulatory system, the cardiovascular system is an organ system comprised of the heart, blood and blood vessels, which carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

Carpal tunnel

The passageway for the tendons and nerves of the hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)

Swelling of the tendons within the carpal tunnel, the narrow channel running through your wrist which compress the median nerve. CTS can cause symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and pain.  This condition is seen more frequently in those with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and other metabolic conditions that make the nerves more susceptible to compression.  CTS is aggravated by forceful and repetitive motions of the hand, wrist and arm.

Carpals

The cluster of eight wrist bones are called carpals.  These bones are covered on the palm side by a thick tissue, forming the carpal tunnel.

Cartilage

Cartilage is a tough elastic tissue found throughout the body in the nose, ears, ribcage, larynx, joints and other areas.  Specifically, in the joints, cartilage functions to cushion, pad and provide smooth surfaces for the movement of the articulating joints.

Cast

A casing made of plaster or fiberglass used to keep a broken bone in place during the healing process.

Chondromalicia

A repetitive injury to the knee.  Also known as “runner’s knee,” chondromalacia is due to an irritation of the undersurface of the kneecap.

Clavicle

Also known as the collar bone, the clavicle is a long curved bone that connects the upper part of the breastbone to the shoulder blade. 

Compression

The “C” in R.I.C.E. therapy, referring to use of a compression bandage or an ace wrap applied to the area of sprain, strain or injury.  A compression wrap should be applied lightly to reduce swelling and provide light support to the affected area.

Computerized axial tomography or CT scan

A painless procedure in which x-rays are passed through the affected area at different angles, detected by a scanner, and analyzed by a computer. CT scan images show soft tissues such as ligaments or muscles more clearly than conventional x-rays. The computer can combine individual images to produce a three-dimensional view.

Dislocation

Occurs when a bone, usually due to sudden impact, becomes displaced from a joint or misaligned from the joint.  There is usually damage to ligaments with a dislocation and risk for reoccurrence increases with each dislocation of that particular joint.

E-H

Elbow joint

A joint made up of the humerus, ulna and radial bones, cartilage, and ligaments. Muscles and tendons help the elbow joint move.

Elevation

The “E” in R.I.C.E. therapy, referring to raising the affected limb above the level of the heart to reduce swelling.

Femur

The longest and strongest bone in the human body, the femur is also known as the thigh bone. The femur helps to form both the hip and knee.

Fibula

Also known as the calf bone. It is the smaller of the two bones of the lower leg below the knee. The fibula is found on the lateral side of the tibia.  The fibula also forms the lateral portion of the ankle joint.

Fracture

A bone break that can be caused by a variety of medical conditions, stress or trauma.  Fractures can be classified in several contexts such as open, closed, simple or multi-fragment.  Additionally, fractures can be described according to how they appear, for example a spiral fracture, complete fracture or compression fracture.

Glenohumeral joint

Also known as the shoulder joint, it is the ball and socket joint that makes up the articulation between the upper arm bone and the shoulder blade. 

Glenoid

A cup-shaped socket in the shoulder that holds the head of the humerus.

Gout

A medical condition characterized by crystals of uric acid forming in the connective tissue or joint spaces due to improper uric acid metabolism. These deposits cause an inflammatory reaction which is exhibited by symptoms of swelling, redness, heat, pain, and stiffness in the joint. Most commonly, gout is experienced in the big toe.

Hip

The joint that connects your thigh-bone to your pelvic bone. Hips are considered ball-and-socket joints because the ball-like top of your thigh-bone moves within a socket in your pelvis.

Hip replacement

A surgical procedure that removes the damaged hip and replaces it with a prosthetic hip.  Surgical goals are pain relief, improved mobility and improved function of the hip joint.

Humerus

The large, long arm bone that connects the shoulder and elbow joints. 

I-L

Immobilized

Referring to restricting the mobility of a joint or limb to promote healing.  Many orthopedic injuries are immobized by splints or casts.

Isometric exercises

A form of exercise characterized by static muscle contraction where joints and muscles are frequently worked against immovable forces.  It is a type of strength training in which the joint angle and muscle length do not change during contraction.  Examples of isometrics include: resistance bands, free weights and pushing against a fixed object.

Isotonic exercises

A form of exercise characterized by increasing tension and shortening and lengthening of the muscle with specific activities.  Examples of isotonic exercise include:  running, lifting and skating.

Joint aspiration

A procedure that uses a syringe to remove fluid buildup in a joint.  This procedure can reduce swelling and relieve pressure. A laboratory analysis of the fluid can determine the presence of an infection, an inflammatory response such as arthritis, or gout. 

Joint

The connection of two or more bones.  Joints provide for mobility and support.

Jumper's knee

Patellar tendinitis resulting from overuse; frequently from sports that require jumping, such as high/long jumping, basketball or volleyball.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

A form of rheumatoid arthritis that occurs in children.

Knee joint

Consists of two joints. The first is called the patello-femoral joint, which is where the large bone of the upper leg, known as the femur, connects with the knee-cap, called the patella. The second joint is the tibio-femoral joint, where the femur hinges with the large bone of the lower leg, called the tibia.

Kneecap

The kneecap or patella, is a thick, triangular bone that moves with the femur and covers and protects the front of the knee joint.

Lateral collateral ligaments

Along with the medial ligament, the lateral collateral ligaments stabilize the knee, limiting side-to-side motion.  This ligament runs along the sides of the knee.

Lateral ligament

Any of various ligaments (such as the lateral ligament of the ankle, or the lateral collateral ligament of the knee) that are in a lateral position or that prevent lateral dislocation of a joint.

Lateral meniscus

Pads of cartilage that serve to cushion the knee joint and act as shock absorbers between the bones along with the medial meniscus.

Ligaments

Ligaments are fibrous tissues that connect bone to bone to form  joints. Some ligaments protect the joint from abnormal movements such as extreme twisting and turning.  Ligaments are elastic so they usually stretch within their limits, and then return to their normal positions.

M-P

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI

An imaging procedure that uses radio frequency waves and a powerful magnet linked to a computer to visualize anatomical structures. MRI imaging is very effective in evaluating soft tissue.

Medial collateral ligament

Along with the lateral collateral ligament, the medial collateral ligament stabilizes the knee, limiting side-to-side motion. This ligament is found on the medial, or inner side of the knee joint.

Medial meniscus

A pad of cartilage that serves to cushion the knee joint. It acts as a shock absorber between the bones, along with the lateral meniscus, and separates the femur and the tibia.

Median nerves

The median nerve travels down the forearm and is the only nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel. When compressed, the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome.

Menisci

Plural of meniscus.

Meniscus

A C-shaped piece of cartilage that acts like a pad between the femur, or thigh bone, and tibia, or shin bone. The meniscus can be injured if the knee is twisted while bearing weight, causing a partial or complete tear.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Also known as NSAIDS, these medications relieve pain, inflammation and fever.  Some commonly used NSAIDS are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.  These medications are frequently recommended in association with the treatment of orthopedic injuries and arthritis.

Orthopedic surgeon

A surgical physician who specializes in the surgical treatment of orthopedic injuries.

Orthotics

Devices such as wedges, heel lifts and stable shoes, which may help correct imbalances, decrease pain, increase stability and provide support.

Osteoarthritis

The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis. This type of arthritis is caused by cartilage damage that causes pain, inflammation and decreased mobility or stiffness of the joint.  This condition is frequently treated with NSAIDS.  

Osteoporosis

A disease most commonly found in postmenopausal women, characterized by decreased bone mineral density causing an increased risk of bone fractures.  Osteoporosis can also occur in men, as well as premenopausal women.

Patella

The patella, or kneecap, is a thick, triangular bone which moves with the femur and covers and protects the front of the knee joint.

Patello-femoral joint

One of the two joints that form the knee joint. The large bone of the upper leg, known as the femur, connects with the knee-cap, called the patella, at this joint.

Pelvic bone

The pelvic bone is located at the base of the spine.  The pelvis connects with the socket portion of the hip joint for each leg.

Physical therapists

Health care professionals who manage conditions through promotion, maintenance and restoration of mobility and function; relieve pain and prevent and/or limit physical disability through a variety of treatment modalities such as exercises, electrical and ultrasonic stimulation, application of heat or ice.

Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)

One of four major knee ligaments, the PCL connects from the back of the tibia to the front of the femur. The main function of the PCL is to prevent backward movement of the tibia on the femur as well as to provide rotational stability to the knee joint.

Proprioception

Awareness of the position, location, orientation and movement of a joint.

Proprioceptive exercises

Exercises designed to improve awareness of the position, location, orientation and movement of a joint.

Q-Z

R.I.C.E.

The acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This therapy is often suggested by providers for initial treatment of an injury.  Rest your injury. Apply Ice to control any swelling.  Apply a Compression bandage. Elevate your injury above heart level.

Radius

The bone on the thumb side of your forearm. The two bones of the lower arm are known as the radius and the ulna.  They meet at the hand to complete the wrist.

Range of motion

The extent that a person can move a joint or muscle between flexion and extension.

Range-of-motion exercises

Exercises that help maintain or increase flexibility and help relieve stiffness.

Repetitive motion injuries

An injury that develops over time and is often the result of the repetitive use of a particular muscle, nerve, tendon or joint.  Also known as overuse injuries and include carpal tunnel syndrome and runner’s knee.

Resistance

To slow, stop, or oppose motion.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

A systemic disease that causes the immune system to attack the joints.  RA is an autoimmune condition that is chronic in nature, causes disability related to severe pain and inflammation and is characterized by the visible deformity of the affected joints.

Rotator cuff

Located in the shoulder, the rotator cuff is formed by a group of four muscles and tendons that encircle and stabilize the shoulder joint. It can be vulnerable to tears and weakening due to a number of causes, including trauma, strain and overuse.

Rotator cuff tear

A common shoulder injury. Frequent causes of  tears include: overuse, trauma, athletic injuries, repetitive overhead motion and frail aging tendons.

Runners's Knee

Also known as Chondromalacia. Runner’s knee is a repetitive injury to the knee and is due to an irritation of the undersurface of the kneecap.

Scapula

The scapula, or shoulder blade, is the bone that connects the humerus (arm bone) with the clavicle (collar bone).

Scapulothoracic joint

One of the three major joints in the shoulder.

Shoulder

A part of the body where the arm attaches to the torso. It is made up of three bones: the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone).  The shoulder also has three major joints: the glenohumeral (GH joint), the acromioclavicular (AC joint), and the scapulothoracic (ST joint).

Shoulder Separation

A shoulder separation occurs when the ligaments between the collarbone and the shoulder blade are torn.

Splint

A device used to immobilize or stabilize an injury.

Sprain

An injury that occurs when a ligament is forced to stretch beyond its normal range.

Strengthening exercises

Exercises that help maintain or increase muscle strength.

Swelling

Also known as edema. Edema is an increase in size as a result of an injury, infection or other medical condition due to inflammation and/or the accumulation of fluid.

Talus

The talus, or ankle bone, is formed where the foot and the leg meet.

Tendinitis or Tendonitis

Stretching and inflammation of a tendon.

Tendon

A fibrous connective tissue that attaches the muscles to the bone.

Thigh bone

Also known as the femur or patella. The large bone of the upper leg that connects with the knee-cap.

Thorax

The body part located between the neck and diaphragm.  It is partially encased by the ribs and contains the heart and lungs.

Tibia

The second largest bone in the body, the tibia is the larger inner bone of the lower leg between the knee and the ankle.

Tibio-femoral joint

The tibio-femoral joint is the second joint of the knee where the femur hinges with the tibia (large bone of the lower leg).

Traumatic injuries

Injuries that are usually the result of a single traumatic event.

Ulna

The bone of the forearm located on the side of your little finger.

Ulnar nerves

The median and ulnar nerves are the major nerves of the hand. They run the length of the arm to transmit electrical impulses to and from the brain, creating both movement and sensation.

Ultrasound

A noninvasive procedure in which a small, hand-held scanner passes ultrasound waves into the tissues. The sound waves echo off the internal structures. These echoes are used to form a high-quality image.

Wrist

The flexible connection between the forearm and the hand. The wrist consists of a double row of small bones that are intertwined to form a movable hinge.

X-ray

A diagnostic test used to identify bone injuries.  Images are produced on photographic film by using high-energy electromagnetic radiation.