Medical Glossary

An explanation of commonly used medical terminology, associated with Orthopaedic and Medic-legal consultations.

A

Abduction
To draw away from the midline of the body or from an adjacent part or limb.

Acupuncture
Used in or adapted from Chinese medical practice in which specific body areas are pierced with fine needles for therapeutic purposes or to relieve pain or produce regional anesthesia.

Acute
A condition which starts and ends quickly.

Adduction
A movement which brings a limb closer to the sagittal plane of the body. (opposite of abduction).

Arthrodesis
The fusion of bones in a joint so that movement is impossible which can sometimes relive pain.

Arthroplasty
An operative procedure to replace a joint.

Arthroscopy
Examination of the inside of a joint by the insertion of a endoscope.

Aspiration
Sucking out fluid, for example with a syringe.

Asymptomatic
Symptom Free.

B

Bilateral
indicates a condition or disease that affects both sides of the body.

Bursa
Bursa is Latin for purse, which is what a bursa resembles - a small fluid-filled sac located at the point where a muscle or tendon slides across bone. Bursae serve to reduce friction between the two moving surfaces. There are hundreds of them throughout the body.

Bursitis
Inflammation of bursa (e.g. housemaid's knee).

C

Calcification
Prolonged inflammation or injury can result in the deposit of the calcium salts in body tissues.

Capsulitis
Inflammation around the joint.

Carpal
Relating to, or near the carpus (wrist).

CAT
Computerised Axial Tomography (a CAT scan). A system of internal x-ray scanning.

Caudal
Of, at, or near the tail or hind parts; posterior. The coccyx area at the base of the spine.

Cervical
Of the neck.

Cervical Spondylosis
Degeneration of the spinal column (neck).

Chronic
Lasting for a long time or permanent - as opposed to Acute.

Colles' Fracture
Fracture across the lower end of the radius (in the wrist).

Comminuted
To break a bone into several small fragments.

Complicated Fracture
A fracture associated with damage to other organs such as muscles, nerves or arteries.

Compound Fracture
A fracture associated with a break in the skin so that the fracture has been exposed.

Condyle
Rounded bulge at the end of some bones.

Contusion
An injury in which the skin is not broken - a bruise.

D

Debriding
The removal of alien matter in a wound thereby cleaning the wound to facilitate healing.Surgical removal of dead, devitalized, or contaminated tissue and removal of foreign matter from a wound to facilitate healing.

Dorsal Spine
Part of the spine where the ribs joint.

Dorsiflexion
The bending back of a part -  Backward movement of joints.

Dorsum
The upper, outer surface of an organ, appendage, or part.

E

Endoscopy
Visual examination of the inside of the body by endoscope.

Epicondyle
A rounded projection at the end of a bone, located on or above a condyle and usually serving as a place of attachment for ligaments and tendons.

Extension
Straightening of a joint.

F

Facet
The surface on a bone which is small and flat.

Fibrosis
Thickening of tissue.

Flexion
Bending of a joint.

Flexor
A muscle which causes a limb or other part to bend.

FractureBreak.
A bone fracture may be 'greenstick' where the bone of a child bends and breaks on one side only rather than fully. 'simple' where the soft tissues are not broken, 'comminuted' where bone is broken into several fragments, 'complicated' where there is also injury to nearby structures or 'compound' where the skin is broken over the fracture and there may be infection. The nature of the break may be transverse, oblique or spiral and a fracture dislocation is a fracture across a joint which affects the joint surfaces.

Fusion
The joining together of normally two bones.

G

Golfer's elbow
Inflammation of the medial epicondyle of the tendon at the elbow.

H

Haematoma
Collection of blood forming swelling.

Haemorrhage
Abnormal bleeding from a vein or artery. Severe haemorrhage may be fatal; less sever may cause surgical shock.

I

Inflammation
A localised protective reaction of tissue to irritation, injury, or infection, characterised by pain, redness, swelling, and sometimes loss of function.

K

Kirschner wire
A wire or rod passed through bone and then used to apply traction.

Kuntscher nail
A strong steel nail that is inserted into the hollow canal of the femur or tibia to maintain position post fracture.

Kyphosis
Kyphosis is the extreme curvature of the upper back also known as a hunchback.

L

Laceration
A wound caused by tearing which is irregular in form unlike a surgical incision.

Laminectomy
Excision of the posterior arch of a vertebra.

Ligament
Short, flexible fibrous tissue binding together bones of the body.

Lumbar
Pertaining to the loins.

M

Malingering
The deliberate pretending of symptoms or exaggerating them for advantage.

Malunion
The failure of bones properly align after fracture resulting in deformity.

Manipulation
The use of the hands in therapeutic or diagnostic procedures, such as palpation, reduction of a dislocation, turning a foetus, or various treatments in physiotherapy and osteopathy.

Mensicus
Semi - lunar cartilage as in wrist or knee joints.

MRI
Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A detailed form of imaging without using radiation . This can detect detailed soft tissue changes.

N

Neuralgia
Pain felt in sensory nerve which can be as a result of injury .

O

Osteoarthritis
Disease involving the joint cartilage.

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis literally means "porous bones." It occurs when bones lose an excessive amount of their protein and mineral content, particularly calcium. Over time, bone mass, and therefore bone strength, is decreased. As a result, bones become fragile and break easily.

P

Paraesthesia
Pins and needles.

Patella
Knee cap.

Posterior
Directed toward or situated at the back; opposite of anterior.

Prolapse
Slipping down or displacement of organ or structure.

Prosthesis
Any artificial replacement body part.

Psychiatry
The medicine of mental illness and emotional and behavioural problems.

Psychology
The study of behaviour and mental processes.

PTSD
A disorder that occurs among survivors of severe environmental stress  symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, flashbacks, and nightmares. Patients with PTSD are unnecessarily vigilant; they may experience survivor guilt, and they sometimes cannot concentrate or experience joy.

R

Referred pain
Pain that is felt in a part of the body away from its cause.

Rotator Cuff
The capsule and tendons around and supporting the shoulder.

RSI
Repetitive Strain Injury.

S

Scaphoid bone
A small bone in the wrist which is easily fractured.

Sciatica
Pain felt down the back and outer side of the thigh, leg and foot.

Soft Tissue Injury
Damage to skin, muscle, tendon or ligament but not bone.

Spondylitis
Inflammation of vertebrae.

Spondylosis
Arthritis of the spine.

Sprain
Stretching or tearing of ligament.

Strain
Stretching or tearing of a muscle.

Subluxation
Partial or incomplete dislocation or strain of a joint.

Synovial Effusion
Extra fluid generated between ligament and muscle due to injury to lining of a ligament.


T

Tendinitis
Inflammation of the tendon.

Tennis Elbow
Inflammation of the elbow at the attachment of the tendon.

Tenosynovitis
Inflammation of a tendon sheath producing pain, swelling and an audible creaking on movement.

Thorax
Chest - the part of the body between the neck and diaphragm, encased by the ribs.

Traction
Drawing or pulling of limb as part of treatment.

Trauma~
Fracture or blow.

U

Ulcer
Breach on surface of skin or membrane which does not tend to heal quickly.

Ulna
The inner bone of the forearm.

Ulna Nerve
One of the primary nerves in the arm.

W

Whiplash Injury
A hyperextension-hyperflexion injury to the cervical spine caused by an abrupt jerking movement of the head, either in a backward or forward direction.(usually occurs in RTAs).

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