Chiropractic Care in Austin - Creating Wellness Chiropractic

Glossary of Chiropractic Terms

The glossary contains many terms used by members of the chiropractic profession, that you may encounter. Quickly find definitions by using the letters below to jump to the terms for which you are looking.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Acute (traumatic) injuries

Injuries that occur after an unexpected event, such as a fall, a sports injury, a job accident, or motor vehicle accident. Acute pain-The most common type of pain, often temporary in nature.

Adjustments

A form of chiropractic technique involving the application of gentle, yet firm, pressure to a bone. Adjustments employ a high velocity, low amplitude thrust. The goal of any adjustment is to restore the bone to its natural, or original, position.

Aerobic exercises

These kinds of exercises generally involve large muscle groups and foster a strong and healthy heart and lung function.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)

A ligament that lies in the middle of the knee. It prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur, and provides rotational stability to the knee. The ACL can become stretched or torn by a sudden twisting motion.

Arthritis

A gradual breakdown, or deterioration, of the joint spaces in your musculoskeletal system.

Atlas

A large vertebra, or upper bone, in the upper cervical spine.

Axis

A large vertebra, or lower bone, in the upper cervical spine.

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Balance training

These kinds of exercises challenge your equilibrium by performing such activities as standing on one foot, then the other, without support.

Birth trauma

Injury caused to an infant's musculoskeletal system during birth. A baby's nervous system can incur damage while traveling through the birth canal. Often, this damage manifests itself in the form of mild "subluxations," or misalignments of the tiny vertebrae.

Bone spurs

Additional bone material, or overgrowths, that have been attributed to a wide variety of ailments. Also called osteophytes, bone spurs are manufactured by your body in response to a breakdown in existing bony structures. Sometimes, bone spurs can exert pressure on nerves, and this leads to pain.

Bulging disc

A common contained disc disorder. Bulging discs may push into the spinal canal.

Bursitis

A condition in which the bursa, or fluid filled sacks that cushion joints, become swollen.

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Carpal tunnel syndrome

A progressive and sometimes painful joint disorder caused by a compression of the median nerve of your hand. The compression causes swelling, which exerts pressure on the nerves.

Cervical spine

The upper portion of your spine; also called the neck. Chiropractic-Comes from the Greek words, "chiro," meaning hand, and "practic," meaning practice, or treatment.

Chiropractor

Also known as a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.), diagnoses and treats a broad range of physical conditions in patients with muscular, nervous, and skeletal problems, especially the spine.

Chronic pain

Long-term, seemingly endless pain that could be a sign of a more serious problem or disease.

Coccyx

The small bone at the lower tip of the spine. Also called the tailbone, a triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the lumbar area.

Compressive neuropathy

A general term for nerve disorders or compressions in the spine.

Craniosacral therapy (CST)

The application of very mild pressure to the body's craniosacral system, which is comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. This includes the cranium-which is composed of the skull, face and mouth-and the "sacrum," or tailbone.

Cranium

Part of the body that incorporates the skull, face and mouth.

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D.C.

Abbreviation for "Doctor of Chiropractic."

D.C.M.

Abbreviation for Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine.

Degenerative disc disease

A condition in which the inner core of the vertebral discs leak proteins that can inflame the nerve roots.

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Endurance exercising

This type involves activity that forces you to breathe harder than you are used to.

Ergonomics

Application of scientific knowledge to the work place in an effort to improve the well being and efficiency of workers.

Exercise therapy

A form of chiropractic treatment used to help manage pain, rehabilitate damaged soft tissues, such as muscles, ligament, and tendons, and restore normal range of motion and function.

Extensors

The back and gluteal muscles that help keep your back straight, assist in efforts involving lifting and moving your thigh away from the body.

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Facet joint syndrome

A condition in which the cartilage in spinal joints wears thin. Your body begins producing material (called bone spurs) to shore up the cartilage. This material can calcify, or harden, causing stiffness in the joint. In some cases, facet joint syndrome can contribute to joint inflammation, muscle spasms, and later osteoarthritis.

Facet joints

The bony structures that allow you back and neck to easily move in different directions.

Failed back surgery syndrome

A condition that refers to a host of problems that may be related to the after-effects of back surgery, but also other factors such as poor body mechanics, or medication problems.

Flexion

distraction-A form of chiropractic treatment in which the patient lies on a specialized table that gently stretches the spine, allowing the chiropractor to pinpoint the affected disc while slightly flexing the spine. These procedures gently move the disc away from an affected nerve, slowing or eliminating inflammation, and pain.

Flexors

Abdominal and iliopsoas muscles that support the spine from the front. They also control the arch of your lower back and move the thigh in toward the body.

Foraminal stenosis

A form of compressive neuropathy, or nerve impingement, in the lower back. Because lumbar stenosis almost always impinges the sciatic nerve, one or both of the legs can also be affected. Radiating pain or numbness in the legs, and sometimes the ankles, feet and toes, is common.

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Golfer's elbow

A type of elbow pain that originates near the inside part of the bony protrusion. This type of pain is also caused by a tear or rupture in the tendon supporting the elbow bone.

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Heat therapy

A form of therapy often used in patients who have chronic, or long-lasting pain. Heat therapy can involve many kinds of methods, from simple heating pads, wraps, and warm gel packs, to sophisticated techniques such as therapeutic ultrasound. While ice therapy is used to reduce swelling, heat therapy is used to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Both kinds of therapy help reduce pain.

Heel bursitis

Inflammation of the rear heel.

Herniated disc

A common noncontained disc disorder in which a disc has ruptured, usually at its weakest point. The vast majority of herniated discs occur in the lower back or lumbar region. In a herniated disc, part of the disc shifts to a position that irritates the nearby nerve for that spinal area.

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Ice massage (cryotherapy)

A form of therapy involving the application of ice to treat many kinds of injuries, including those associated with back or neck pain. Ice causes the veins in the affected tissue area to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood while acting as kind of anesthetic to numb the pain. But when the ice is removed, the veins compensate by opening large, allowing a large volume of blood to rush to the affected area. The blood brings with it important chemicals that aid in the healing process.

Instrument adjustment

A form of chiropractic adjustment using a spring-loaded device.

Interferential current (IFC)

A form of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy in which high-frequency electrical impulses are introduced deep into the tissues near the center of the pain.

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There are no words that begin with the letter "J".

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Kyphosis

A backward displacement in the lateral curve of the spine.

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Laminectomy

an operation performed on the lower spine to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots.

Locked elbow

A type of pain that occurs when the elbow bones or their surrounding muscle fibers become stiff or immobile from disease or injury.

Lumbar roll

A form of chiropractic adjustment in which the chiropractor applies a firm, yet quick thrust to a misaligned vertebra while the patient lies on his or her side. Lumbar spine-Lower back.

Lumbar stabilization

A form of physical therapy that helps strengthen the muscles supporting the lower spine. Lumbar stabilization helps you develop strength, flexibility and endurance and also has been shown effective in alleviating lower back pain.

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Manipulation

A form of chiropractic treatment which involves the application of gentle yet firm pressure to muscles, joints and bones. The goal of manipulation is to restore normal joint motion and to eliminate pain.

McKenzie Method

Form of exercise named after Robin McKenzie, a New Zealand physical therapist, who endorsed the repeated flexing or extension of the lower back as a way to treat a wide variety of back, or more specifically, spine, problems. McKenzie based his notion on the fact that a healthy spine was one that stayed mobile and flexible. Many health care professionals involved in spine health believe that this form of exercise can be an effective self-treatment plan for low back pain.

Medulla oblongata

Lower brainstem.

Migraine

A type of headache that some people get repeatedly over time. Migraines occur when blood vessels of the head and neck spasm or constrict, which decreases blood flow to the brain. Minutes to hours later, the blood vessels dilate (enlarge), resulting in a severe headache. Inflammation around the blood vessels also occurs in some cases.

Motion palpation

A form of chiropractic adjustment using a hand technique to determine if your vertebrae are properly aligned.

Muscles

Soft tissues that provide strength and assist with motor ability, or movement. Spinal muscles support your spine as it bends and flexes.

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Nerve roots

Bundles of nerves located near open spaces, or bony canals, in your spinal cord, just before they branch off into segmental spinal nerves and to various parts of the body. Nerve roots are named for the level of your spine they exit from, beginning with a letter and followed by a number. For example, a nerve root in the cervical spine may be called "C6," while a nerve root in the lumbar region may be called "L4."

Neuropathic

"Nerve-related" in nature.

Neuropathic pain

A debilitating form of chronic pain that results from peripheral or central nervous system damage.

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Obliques (also called rotators)

"Side" muscles that stabilize your spine when you are standing upright, and help rotate your spine and maintain proper posture and spinal curvature. Obstructive sleep apnea-A more serious form of sleep apnea.

Osteoarthritis

A degenerative form of arthritis that mostly affects the elderly. In some, osteoarthritis may affect the spine's facet joints, making it extremely painful to bend or twist. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down and away from the joints. Stripped of their protective material, the joints begin rubbing against each other, causing pain and impeding movement. This action further irritates the surrounding nerves. Advanced forms of spinal osteoarthritis lead to disc collapse and other problems.

Osteophytes

Additional bone material, or overgrowths, that have been attributed to a wide variety of ailments. Also called bone spurs, osteophytes are manufactured by your body in response to a breakdown in existing bony structures. Sometimes, bone spurs can exert pressure on nerves, and this leads to pain.

Osteoporosis

A gradual disintegration of bone. Osteoporosis can have a devastating impact on the joints and vertebrae of your spine. Osteoporosis causes the loss of mass and density in bones, making them highly susceptible to fractures.

Overuse injuries

Injuries that occur during the course of everyday activities, such as housework or exercise. Symptoms may include pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness.

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Pelvic blocking

A form of chiropractic treatment using cushioned wedges under each side of the hips. The chiropractor gently maneuvers the pelvic area, allowing gravity to pull the disc away from the affected nerve.

Peripheral neuropathy

A form of nerve degeneration that mainly affects the arms, hands, legs, and feet, peripheral neuropathy has been associated with poor nutrition and diabetes. Because peripheral neuropathy can cause nerve endings to deaden, people with condition often report losing feeling in their fingertips and toes.

Pilates

An exercise program named after Joseph Pilates, who developed an exercise program in the early 20th century to improve the physical fitness of World War I soldiers. Pilates later incorporated resistance into programs for rehabilitating injured patients. He later incorporated springs into machines that later became the foundation of the famous Pilates equipment used today.

Piriformis syndrome

A condition caused by the sciatic nerve getting pinched as it exits the spinal column. (Sometimes, it can mimic the symptoms of sciatica.) The pinching is sometimes caused by muscles spasms. Piriformis syndrome sometimes causes pain along the back of the thigh to the knee, or loss of feeling in the soles of the feet.

Plantar fasciitis

Inflammation of the ligament running from the front of the heel bone through the bottom of the foot. Repetitive motions such as quick stops and starts during sports, or long distance running, have sometimes been associated with Plantar fasciitis. Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)-A ligament that prevents the tibia from sliding backwards under the femur. The PCL is most often injured by a direct impact, such as in an automobile accident or football tackle.

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There are no words that begin with the letter "Q".

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Radiculopathy

Disease of one or more spinal nerve roots.

Release work

A form of chiropractic adjustment in which the chiropractor uses gentle pressure with the fingers to separate the vertebrae.

Rheumatoid arthritis

An advanced form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the joint tissues, leading to pain, weakness, low red blood cell count (anemia) and loss of appetite.

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Sacroiliac joint

The spinal joint that links the bottom of the spine with pelvic bone.

Sacroiliac joint disorder

A common joint disorder involving the sacroiliac joint, which links the bottom of the spine with pelvic bone. This joint endures a lot of pressure and absorbs the shocks from the upper body. While it is a very strong and mostly stationary joint, the sacroiliac joint can become damaged or impaired. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can mimic many of the symptoms of herniated lumbar disc.

Sacrum

The triangular bone at the base of the spinal column that connects the pelvic bones.

Scheuermann's disease

A hunchback appearance of the spine may be a sign of this disease, a condition caused by an enlargement or deformity of the roundback portion of the thoracic spine.

Sciatic nerve

The main nerve traveling down the leg. Pain associated with the sciatic nerve usually originates higher along the spinal cord when nerve roots become compressed or damaged from narrowing of the vertebral column or from a slipped disk. Symptoms can include tingling, numbness, or pain, which radiates to the buttocks legs and feet.

Sciatica

A condition in which the sciatic nerve is impaired. A bundle, or cable, of small nerves travels down the spine and into the pelvis area, where they come together to form the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve then branches off into each lower extremity, through the buttock and into the tops of the legs. People who have sciatica often complain of numbness or tingling in the feet or toes, or sharp, stabbing pains in the buttocks or shooting down the backs of their legs.

Scoliosis

A medical term that refers to spinal curvatures. Scoliosis is a condition that almost always begins in early childhood. It is now readily treated the earlier it is detected. Children should be checked at age 8,10,12,14 and 16.

Sleep apnea

A defect in the throat tissues, such as the soft palate and uvula, that prevents the proper amount of air from entering your windpipe. Sleep apnea usually causes snoring, the rattling sound of which comes from the vibration in the soft tissues.

Slipped disc

A misnomer for a ruptured or herniated disc. Discs don't actually slip.

Spinae

Two large muscles in your lower back. Also called erector muscles.

Spinal column

The collective term for the bones of your back. It acts as protection for the spinal cord and allows the body to flex and bend in various directions.

Spinal cord

A longitudinal structure of tissue, including nerves, that extends from the brainstem to the tailbone.

Spinal infections

Infections of the spine, including spinal meningitis. While rare, spinal infections have been linked to nerve disorders. As in any infection, the affected area of the spine may become swollen, causing pressure on spinal nerves. In addition, the infection, left untreated, could lead to an abscess and permanently damage soft tissues and nerve cells.

Spinal osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, or gradual disintegration of bone, in the spine. Spinal osteoporosis is hard to spot in its early stages. In advanced stages, people complain of chronic pain, loss of mobility, and shorter or humped over stature.

Spondylolisthesis

An advanced case of facet joint disorder in which spinal joints slip forward.

Stenosis

A condition in which the spinal openings, or bony canals, become blocked or narrowed, causing nerve impingement.

Strength training

This helps you tone muscles and lose fat. It also helps to keep your bones keep your bones strong-which helps you avoid fractures as your bones weaken with age.

Strengthening exercises

Focus on the abdominal and back muscles because these play a key role in supporting your spine and maintaining good posture. These help improve your range of motion and flexibility.

Streteching exercises

Target the soft tissues in your legs and surrounding your spine. Student's elbow-Another term for bursitis, or swollen sacks under the elbow joint. This is often caused by repeated rubbing of the elbow on a hard surface, such as a desk.

Subluxations

Misalignments in the bony structures of the spine. Subluxations can create pressure or irritation on the various nerves in your spine, and can cause a wide variety of symptoms throughout your body, such as localized pain, soreness, irregularity, and weakness. When pressure is applied on a nerve in your spine, the nerve energy is interrupted, and sometimes this can profoundly affect the function of other systems or organs in your body.

Synovium

Inflammation of the lining in spinal joints.

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Table adjustments

A form of chiropractic adjustment that entails laying on a specially designed table that drops when pressure is applied to a specific area. The dropping motion allows more gentle adjustments than some manual adjustments do.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

The ball and socket joint on each side of your jaw.

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMDs)

A condition caused by problems with the muscles of the jaw or the joint itself. A clicking or popping sound when opening the mouth wide, such as in yawning, may be a sign that you have a problem with your TMJ.

Tendonitis

A condition in which a tendon becomes swollen or inflamed.

Tennis elbow

Layman's term for pain on the lateral, or outside part of the elbow, on or near the bony protrusion. Tennis elbow is caused when the tendon from the elbow bone tears or is ruptured. It's no surprise that professional tennis players can become inflicted with this with all of the stress and strain they place on the joint during play.

Therapeutic massage

A form of massage that involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body to prevent and alleviate pain, discomfort, muscle spasm and stress.

Thoracic spine

The region of the back between the neck and the pelvis. Toggle drop-A form of chiropractic adjustment that entails firm pressure applied on a specific area of the spine by using crossed hands.

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Ultrasound

A technique using sound waves that heat soft tissues. Diagnostic ultrasound is used to look at joints, nerve roots, tendons, ligaments and muscles and pinpoint signs of inflammation and scar tissue. In some cases, ultrasound helps the chiropractor identify the proper course of treatment.

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Vertebral bodies

The 24 large movable bony structures that form the support column of your back. Vertebral bodies are separated by small spaces containing discs.

Vertebral discs

The shock absorbers that are found between vertebral bodies. Each disc is essentially sandwiched between two vertebrae supported by ligaments. Composed of collagen, discs have a tough outer core and a soft inner core. When you are born, these discs are mostly water.

Vertebral subluxation complex

Medical terminology for the ways chiropractors categorize the various locations, or "components," where subluxations are known to occur. The five components of the vertebral subluxation complex are osseous (bone), nerve, muscle, soft tissue and chemical.

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Whiplash

An injury to the cervical spine, or neck, and occurs when the muscles and other soft tissues are hyper-extended or hyper-flexed.

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X-rays

Electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate many objects and reveal their internal structure by recording the shadow cast on photographic plates.

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There are no words that begin with the letter "Y".

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There are no words that begin with the letter "Z".

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