Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion
A procedure that reaches the cervical spine (neck) through a small incision in the front of the neck. The intervertebral disc is removed and replaced with a small plug of bone or other graft substitute and in time will fuse the vertebrae.
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Back Injury vs. Muscle Spasm
People commonly confuse spinal injuries with muscle spasms. Spinal injuries involve changes in bone structure or soft-tissue consistency, e.g., fractured vertebrae, degenerating discs, torn or stretched ligaments and nerve damage. Spinal injuries require substantial healing time — or may never heal. Muscle spasms – painful muscular contractions – though painful, do not constitute an injury. Though symptoms of nerve impingement may accompany muscle spasms and mimic a spinal injury, these symptoms often disappear nearly instantly once muscle spasms relax.
A cervical brace (also known as cervical collar) is an orthopedic medical device used to support a patient’s neck and head. It is also used by emergency personnel for those who have had traumatic head or neck injuries and can be used to treat chronic medical conditions.
Cervical radiculopathy is the damage or disturbance of nerve function that results if one of the nerve roots near the cervical vertebrae is compressed. Damage to nerve roots in the cervical area can cause pain and the loss of sensation in different parts of the upper extremities depending on where the damaged roots are located.
The cervical spine (neck) is delicate – housing the spinal cord that sends messages from the brain to control all aspects of the body – while remarkably flexible allowing movement in all directions.
Cervical spondylosis is a general term for age-related wear and tear affecting the spinal disks in your neck. As the disks dehydrate and shrink, bone spurs and other signs of osteoarthritis develop. There also appears to be a genetic component involved because some families will have more of these changes over time while other families will develop less.
Cervical traction has been utilized for many years for relief of pain associated with neck muscle spasms or nerve root compression. Traction is a medical technique in which opposite forces are applied to separate parts of the body to stretch soft tissues and/or separate bony structures.
The cartilage under your kneecap is a natural shock absorber. Overuse, injury or other factors may lead to a condition known as chondromalacia patella (kon-droh-muh-LAY-shuh puh-TEL-uh) – a general term indicating damage to the cartilage under your kneecap.
Chronic Knee Pain
Chronic knee pain is long-term pain, swelling, or sensitivity in one or both knees. The cause of your knee pain can determine the exact signs and symptoms you may experience. Chronic knee pain is a broad condition; many conditions can cause it or contribute to it, and many treatments exist for it.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) of the lower extremities is a condition caused by abnormalities of the venous wall and valves leading to obstruction or reflux of blood flow in the veins. Signs of CVI include hyperpigmentation, stasis dermatitis, chronic edema, and venous ulcers.
Congenital Deformities of the Knee
Congenital deformities of the knee are the result of abnormalities of all the anatomical structures that make up this joint. In some cases the structural changes observed are due to primary disorders of formation and growth of one or more of the anatomical components of the knee.
Delayed union, by definition, is present when an adequate period of time has elapsed since the initial injury without achieving bone union. The fact that a bone is delayed in its union does not mean that it will become a nonunion. Nonunion is one end result of a delayed union and the differentiation between the two is sometimes difficult to make.
Degenerative Disc Disorder
Degeneration of one or more intervertebral disc(s) of the spine, often called “degenerative disc disease” (DDD) or “degenerative disc disorder,” is a condition that can be painful and can greatly affect the quality of one’s life.
Disc degeneration is a disease of aging and though for most people is not a problem. In certain individuals a degenerated disc can cause severe chronic pain if left untreated.
Facet Joint Syndrome
The facet joints are bony projections on vertebrae. Generally, these bony projections on neighboring vertebrae don’t touch each other but muscular contractions along the spine pull neighboring vertebrae together and may cause those facet joints to meet with undue pressure and friction. The pain and inflammation that result are sometimes called “facet joint syndrome” and sometimes, “spinal arthritis.”
A herniated disk refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make your spine. A herniated disk can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Sometimes called a slipped disk or a ruptured disk, a herniated disk occurs when some of the softer “jelly” pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior.
Laminectomy is surgery to remove the lamina – the back part of the vertebra that covers your spinal canal. Also known as decompression surgery, laminectomy enlarges your spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. This pressure can be caused by a variety of problems including bony overgrowths within the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) or by a herniated disk.
Lateral traction moves part of your body, such as your leg, slightly to the side to correct a dislocation. A system of weights and tension holds your body part in place as a form of orthopedic treatment.
Lower Back Pain
The lower back is an intricate structure of interconnected and overlapping elements: tendons and muscles and other soft tissues; highly sensitive nerves and nerve roots that travel from the lower back down into the legs and feet; small and complex joints; and spinal discs with their gelatinous inner cores. An irritation or problem with any of these structures can cause lower back pain and/or pain that radiates or is referred to other parts of the body. Identifying the symptoms, along with an accurate medical diagnosis of the underlying cause of the pain, is the first step in obtaining effective pain relief.
Lumbago is pain in the lower (lumbar) portion of the back. The pain may be mild or severe, acute or chronic, confined to the lower back or radiating into the buttocks and upper thighs.
Lumbar back braces are designed to support the lower back and are indicated for many common back conditions from back strains, post-op laminectomy, spinal stenosis and bulging discs.
The lumbar spine refers to the lower back where the spine curves inward toward the abdomen. It starts about five or six inches below the shoulder blades and connects with the thoracic spine at the top and extends downward to the sacral spine.
Also known as spinal osteoarthritis, can affect the lumbar, thoracic, and/or the cervical regions of the spine. The intervertebral discs and facet joints are affected with this degenerative disorder.
A lumbar traction uses manually or mechanically created forces to stretch and mobilize the spine. Traction may alleviate back pain by stretching tight spinal muscles that result from spasm and widen intervertebral foramen to relieve nerve root impingement.
Lymphedema is the swelling of subcutaneous tissues due to the accumulation of excessive lymph fluid. The accumulation of lymph fluid results from impairment to the normal clearing function of the lymphatic system and/or from an excessive production of lymph.
Malunion is defined as a healing of the bones in an abnormal position.
Meniscus Disorder (Knee)
Knee meniscus disorders involve the medial meniscus or lateral meniscus, two semicircular pads of cartilage in the knee between the joint surfaces (femoral and tibial condyles) of the upper leg bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia). Menisci serve as shock absorbers. The most common meniscus disorder is a tear. Tears are classified according to location, shape, size, and stability.
Muscle atrophy is the wasting or loss of muscle tissue. People with seated jobs, medical conditions that limit their movement, or decreased activity levels can lose muscle tone and develop atrophy. Bedridden people can have significant muscle wasting. Astronauts who are away from the Earth’s gravity can develop decreased muscle tone after just a few days of weightlessness.
Nonunion is defined as the cessation of all reparative processes of healing without bony union. Since all of the factors discussed under delayed union usually occur to a more severe degree in nonunion, the differentiation between delayed and nonunion is often based on radiographic criteria and time.
Patellar (Kneecap) Fractures
Because your kneecap (patella) acts like a shield for your knee joint, it can easily be broken. Falling directly onto your knee, for example, is a common cause of patellar fractures.
This term has to do with pinched nerves (nerve impingement). It refers to pain at a location other than at the location where the nerve pinch exists.
A common end-point of disc herniation left untreated, a disc rupture extrudes the pulpy center of the disc (nucleus pulposus) out of the disc into the surrounding space outside the disc. The extruded disc material may then press upon nerve roots, causing referred pain.
Sacroiliitis (say-kroe-il-e-I-tis) is an inflammation of one or both of your sacroiliac joints – the places where your lower spine and pelvis connect. Sacroiliitis can cause pain in your buttocks or lower back and may even extend down one or both legs.
Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg.
Slipped disc is a medical condition in which a tear in the outer, fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral disc (discus intervertebralis) allows the soft, central portion (nucleus pulposus) to bulge out beyond the damaged outer rings.
A surgical procedure, spinal fusion is a man-made way of recreating a natural end-process of disc breakdown: the growth of bone to replace degenerated discs. In the procedure, the ridges (spinous processes) and rear wall (laminae) of vertebrae are surgically removed (laminectomy), the disc or discs removed, bony material (generally the size and shape of matchsticks) placed to grow over the surgical wound, and the patient placed in a torso cast. The result is a rigid spine incapable of its normal flexibility, but stabilized to prevent nerve impingement. Pain sometimes remains due to reflexive muscular contractions at the surgical site.
Abnormal curvature of the spine. While a normal spine exhibits curves and the natural curvability that allow flexibility, some people exhibit spinal curvatures that interfere with normal movement and distort posture. Scoliosis has been classified into several categories that describe type of curvature and degree of severity.
Your spinal column is made of up bones (vertebrae) that are cushioned by disks. The disks protect the bones by absorbing the shocks from daily activities like walking, lifting, and twisting. Each disk has two parts–a soft, gelatinous inner portion and a tough outer ring. Injury or weakness can cause the inner portion of the disk to protrude through the outer ring.
Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs that separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region).
Spinal fusion is surgery to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in your spine eliminating motion between them. Spinal fusion involves techniques designed to mimic the normal healing process of broken bones. During spinal fusion, your surgeon places bone or a bone-like material within the space between two spinal vertebrae. Metal plates, screws and rods may be used to hold the vertebrae together, so they can heal into one solid unit.
Spinal laminectomy is a procedure for treating spinal stenosis by relieving pressure on the spinal cord. A part of the lamina is removed or trimmed to widen the spinal canal and create more space for the spinal nerves.
Spinal Nerve Roots
Spinal nerve roots branch out from each side of the spinal cord and then join to form the spinal nerves which pass through openings between the spinal bones (vertebrae) and then form branches that extend throughout the body. Each spinal nerve is attached to the spinal cord by two nerve roots.
Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the open spaces within your spine which can put pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine. Spinal stenosis occurs most often in the neck and lower back. While some people have no signs or symptoms, spinal stenosis can cause pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and problems with bladder or bowel function.
Spinal traction is a form of decompression therapy that relieves pressure on the spine. It can be performed manually or mechanically. Spinal traction is used to treat herniated discs, sciatica, degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves and many other back conditions.
Stress Fracture of Tibia or Fibula
The tibia, or shinbone, is the most common fractured long bone in your body. The long bones include the femur, humerus, tibia, and fibula. A tibial shaft fracture occurs along the length of the bone below the knee and above the ankle. A stress fracture of the fibula is a small fracture or hairline crack in the bone. It is not as common as a stress fracture of the tibia because the fibula is not used in load bearing in the same way.
The thoracic spine refers to the upper- and middle-back. It joins the cervical spine and extends down about five inches past the bottom of the shoulder blades, where it connects with the lumbar spine.
Torn Disc or Disc Tear
A consequence of violent injury, disc tear may appear symptomatically similar to a bulging disc but cannot be treated effectively by muscular retraining, traction, massage or other non-invasive techniques because the muscular contractions are protective in nature. The muscular contractions are stabilizing a length of spinal column that has lost its structural support. A torn disc is a surgical situation. While surgery may restore stability to the spine it may leave residual muscular contractions that must be addressed for recovery (and alleviation of symptoms) to be complete.
In medical terminology, traction refers to the practice of exerting a slow, gentle pull on a fractured or dislocated body part. The purpose is to guide the part back into place and to hold it steady. Traction may also be used to stretch the neck and prevent painful muscle spasms. Traction is often accomplished using ropes, pulleys, and even the weight of the patient’s own body.
Important: This glossary is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be used to interpret or diagnosis any symptoms or conditions that may be experienced whose interpretation and diagnosis can only be made by a licensed medical professional. The inclusion of this glossary is not intended to replace or supplement the advice given by a licensed medical professional and it is recommended that you see a licensed medical professional if you believe these or any other symptoms or conditions exist. MDcure is designed to relieve lower back pain and pain in other areas of the body associated with muscle strains, pulls, tears, tension, spasms and overuse; repetitive motion injuries; poor posture; prolonged sitting and weak core muscles and should not be used to treat other disease states of conditions. Aerotel assumes no ownership of any content provided in this glossary, whose ownership remains with the holder of any copyright(s) that may exist and has not independently validated its contents for accuracy. Sources for glossary – primary http://imsexperts.net/patient-medical-glossary/ and secondary http://somatics.com/back_pain_terms.htm.
Advisory: The contents of the MDcure website and blog are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. When a third-party source is referenced, the recommendations and/or opinions expressed are those of the author’s. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition and before starting or stopping any exercise program. Reliance on information provided by Aerotel is solely at your discretion. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately!