Orthopaedic Glossary

Term Description
ankylosing spondylitisa disease that affects the spine, causing the bones of the spine to grow together.
anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)the ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
arthritisinflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and sometimes change in structure.
arthrograman x-ray to view bone structures following an injection of a contrast fluid into a joint area. When the fluid leaks into an area that it does not belong, disease or injury may be considered, as a leak would provide evidence of a tear, opening, or blockage.
arthroscopya minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube (arthroscope) which is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen; used to evaluate soft tissue conditions such as meniscus tears and ligament injuries, degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.
bursaa sac filled with fluid located between a bone and a tendon or muscle.
bursitisrepeated small stresses and overuse that cause the bursa to swell and become irritated.
bunionan inflammation and thickening of the bursa in the joint of the big toe.
carpal tunnel syndromea condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, a narrow confined space. Since the median nerve provides sensory and motor functions to the thumb and three middle fingers, many symptoms may result.
cartilagea smooth material that covers bone ends of a joint to cushion the bone and allow the joint to move easily without pain.
casta cast holds a broken bone in place as it heals, prevents or decreases muscle contractures, or provides immobilization, especially after surgery. Casts immobilize the joint above and the joint below the area that is to be kept straight and without motion.
computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.)a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
congenitalpresent at birth.
corna yellowish, callus growth that develops on top of the toes.
cubital tunnela tunnel of muscle, ligament, and bone on the inside of the elbow.
dislocationa dislocation occurs when extreme force is put on a ligament causing the two bone ends to separate. Dislocations can also affect a joint, the point where two or more bones come together. Some joints are created as a ball-and-socket joint. A dislocated joint causes the head of the bone (ball) to partially or completely come out of the socket.
electromyogram (EMG)a test to evaluate nerve and muscle function
fibromyalgia (Also called fibrositis)a chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body.
fracturea break in a bone.
ganglion cystsnon-cancerous, fluid-filled cysts are common masses or lumps in the hand and usually found on the back of the wrist.
gouta result of a defect in body chemistry (such as uric acid in the joint fluid), this painful condition most often attacks small joints, especially the big toe. It can usually be controlled with medication and changes in diet.
hammertoea permanent bend in the middle toe joint.
heat exhaustiona form of heat-related illness that is more severe than heat cramps and results from a loss of water and salt in the body. It occurs in conditions of extreme heat and excessive sweating without adequate fluid and salt replacement. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself properly. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
heel spura bone growth on the heel bone.
humerusthe bone of the upper arm.
inflammationa normal reaction to injury or disease, which results in swelling, pain, and stiffness.
jointwhere the ends of two or more bones meet.
juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA)a form of arthritis in children ages 16 or younger that causes inflammation and stiffness of joints for more than six weeks. Unlike adult rheumatoid arthritis, which is chronic and lasts a lifetime, children often outgrow juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. However, the disease can affect bone development in the growing child.
lateral collateral ligament (LCL)the ligament that gives stability to the outer knee.
lateral epicondylitis (Also known as tennis elbow)pain is caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist backward away from the palm.
ligamentsa white, shiny, flexible band of fibrous tissue that binds joints together and connects various bones and cartilage.
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
medial collateral ligament (MCL)the ligament that gives stability to the inner knee.
medial epicondylitis (Also known as golfer’s elbow, baseball elbow, suitcase elbow, or forehand tennis elbow)pain caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist toward the palm.
meniscitwo crescent-shaped discs of connective tissue between the bones of the knees that act as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body.
Morton’s neuromaA pinched nerve that usually causes pain between the third and fourth toes.
musculoskeletal systemthe complex system involving the body’s muscles and skeleton, and including the joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.
orthopaedic surgeon (Also called an orthopaedist)a physician who diagnoses, treats, manages the rehabilitation process, and provides prevention protocols for patients who suffer from injury or disease in any of the components of the musculoskeletal system.
orthopaedic surgery (Also called orthopaedics)the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of injuries and diseases of the body’s musculoskeletal system.
osteoarthritisa condition caused by wear and tear that causes inflammation of the joint, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness.
osteoporosisa condition that develops when bone is no longer replaced as quickly as it is removed.
overuse conditionsinjuries due to minor trauma involving soft-tissue or injuries injuries that affect the bone, muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons.
physician assistant (PA)physician assistants are health care professionals licensed, or in the case of those employed by the federal government they are credentialed, to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PA’s conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions. Within the physician-PA relationship, physician assistants exercise autonomy in medical decision making and provide a broad range of diagnostic and therapeutic services. A PA’s practice may also include education, research and administrative services.
plantar fasciaa long band of connecting tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot.
plantar wartswarts that occur on the sole of the foot and look like calluses as a result of an infection or a specific virus.
posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)the ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls backward movement of the tibia (shin bone).
posteromedial shin splinta type of shin splint that affects the back and inner part of the muscles of the shin and is caused by running and/or by wearing inappropriate footwear.
prosthesisan artificial body part replacement.
radionuclide bone scana nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the patient’s bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.
radiusthe shorter of the two bones of the forearm.
rheumatoid arthritisan inflammatory disease that involves the lining of the joint (synovium). The inflammation often affects the joints of the hands and the feet and tends to occur equally on both sides of the body.
R.I.C.E.Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
sclerodermaa very serious disease of the body’s connective tissue that causes thickening and hardening of the skin.
scoliosisa lateral, or sideways, curvature and rotation of the back bones (vertebrae), giving the appearance that the person is leaning to one side.
shin splintsdamage to one of two groups of muscles along the shin bone that cause pain.
soft tissuesthe ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the musculoskeletal system.
spraina partial or complete tear of a ligament.
straina partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon.
stress fracturea bone injury caused by overuse.
synovial fluida clear, sticky fluid that is released by the synovial membrane and acts as a lubricant for joints and tendons.
systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)a very serious, chronic, autoimmune disorder characterized by periodic episodes of inflammation of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and skin.
tendonthe tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones.
tendonitisan inflammation in a tendon or the tendon covering.
tibiashin bone or larger bone of the lower leg.
trigger fingeran irritation of the digital sheath that surrounds the flexor tendons of the finger. When the tendon sheath becomes thickened or swollen it pinches the tendon and prevents it from gliding smoothly. In some cases, the tendon catches and then suddenly releases as though a trigger were released.
ulnathe longer of the two bones in the forearm.
ultrasounda diagnostic technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
x-raya diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

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