Chiropractic’s 50 Most Common Terms

In our office we make sure to break down peoples problems in terms that are simple to understand. We use everyday language, charts, and models so the patient gets a very clear picture of what is wrong with them. On occasion a ten dollar word may slip out, so here is a list of the 50 most commonly used terms in Chiropractic.

  1. Acutez – Relatively severe and of short duration.
  2. Adjustment – A specific thrust or pressure delivered at the right time, location, and angle to add motion to a “stuck” spinal joint.
  3. Anterior – Toward the front of the body.
  4. Arthritis – Inflammation of a joint that is often accompanied by symptoms and changes in structure.
  5. Bone Spur – A bony outgrowth. A calcium deposit that can be part of the body’s response to abnormal motion or position of bones in the spine or elsewhere.
  6. Cervical – The vertebrae of the neck, usually seven bones.
  7. Chronic – Persisting for a long period of time. A problem showing little change or of slow progression.
  8. Coccyx – A series of small bones below the sacrum that are also known as the tailbone.
  9. Compensation Reaction – A new problem that results from the body’s attempt to respond to a problem elsewhere.
  10. Compressive Lesion – A malfunctioning spinal bone or soft tissue that puts direct pressure on a nerve, distorting its function. This is the phenomenon known as a pinched nerve. (See Facilitative Lesion)
  11. Disc – A cartilage (cushion/pad) that separates spinal vertebrae, absorbs shocks to the spine, protects the nervous system, and assists in creating the four normal curves of the spine. Discs can bulge, herniate, or rupture, but because of the way they attach to the vertebrae above and below, they do not and can not “slip.”
  12. Edema – A condition in which fluid fills a damaged joint area causing swelling; similar to the swelling of a sprained ankle, black eye or fat lip.
  13. Extremity – Lower or upper limb, such as a leg or an arm.
  14. Facet – The joint surface of a spinal bone, facing the adjacent bone above or below.
  15. Facilitative Lesion – A twisting, stretching, chafing or irritation of nerve tissue from malfunctioning spinal structures.
  16. Fixation – Being held in a fixed position. “Stuck.” A joint with restrictive movement.
  17. Foramen – An opening, a hole or passageway in a bone for blood vessels, or nerves.
  18. Health – A state of optimal physical, mental, and social well being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. When your body works the way it was designed to work.
  19. Herniation – A protrusion of an organ or part of an organ through the wall that normally contains it.
  20. Hypermobility – Too much movement
  21. Hypomobility – Restricted movement
  22. Ilium – One of the two large bones that form the pelvis; the hip bone.
  23. Inflamation – A reaction of soft tissue due to injury that may include malfunction, discomfort, rise in temperature, swelling, and increased blood supply.
  24. Intervertebral Foramina – The lateral opening through which spinal nerve roots exit on each side of the spinal column, formed by each spinal joint.
  25. Kyphosis – A backward displacement in the lateral curve of the spine.
  26. Lateral – Side view of the body.
  27. Ligament – A band or sheet of fibrous connective tissue that binds joints together.
  28. Lordosis – The forward curve of the spine, normally found in the cervical and lumbar areas of the spine.
  29. Lumbar – The vertebrae of the the lower back usually five bones.
  30. Nucleus Pulposus – The gelatinous mass in the center of a spinal disc.
  31. Occipital – Pertaining to the lower, posterior portion of the head or skull that rests on the spinal column.
  32. Palpation – Examining the spine with your fingers; the art of feeling with the hands
  33. Posterior – Toward the back of the body.
  34. Range of Motion – The range, measured in degrees of a circle, through which a joint can be moved.
  35. Sacroiliac – The two joints where the hip bones connect to the sacrum.
  36. Sciatica – A pain that radiates from the lower back into the buttocks and down the back of one or both legs caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerves, the largest nerves of the body.
  37. Scoliosis – Looking from the back, a sideways curvature of the spine.
  38. Slipped Disc – An incorrect name given a situation in which a disc becomes wedge-shaped and bulges. In extreme cases, pressure can cause a disc to tear or rupture.
  39. Spasm – A constant contraction or tightening of a muscle.
  40. Spinous Process – The protruding part of the back of each spinal bone that can be seen or felt when examining the spine.
  41. Subluxation – A misalignment or malfunction of the spine that is less than a total dislocation, which affects the nervous system and its ability to correctly control or monitor the organs and tissues of the body.
  42. Tendon – Fibrous tissue that connects muscle to bone.
  43. Thoracic – Pertaining to the twelve vertebrae of the mid back, from the base of the neck to about 6 inches above the waist line, to which the ribs attach.
  44. Torticollis – A contracted state of the neck muscles that produces a twisting of the neck and unnatural positioning of the head.
  45. Traction – The act of drawing or exerting a pulling force, as along the long axis of a structure.
  46. Transverse Process – Lateral protrusions (wings) on the side of each vertebrae to which powerful muscles and ligaments attach.
  47. Trigger Point – An involuntary tight band of muscle that is painful when pressed and can refer pain to other parts of the body.
  48. Vertebra – Any of the individual bones of the spinal column.
  49. Vertebral Subluxation Complex – Types of pathology resulting from a Vertebral Subluxation including kinesiopathology, neuropathology, myopathology, histopathology, and pathophysiology.
  50. Whiplash – An injury to the spine caused by an abrupt jerking motion, either backward, forward, or from the side.

Dr. Ryan Giel

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