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Glossary

A-B C-D E-G H-K L-O P-R S-T U-Z

A-B

Acetaminophen

An over the counter analgesic medication used to relieve pain and reduce fever reducer.

Acupuncture

An ancient Chinese practice that involves inserting thin needles at various sites on the body to relieve pain or influence other body processes. Today, doctors use acupuncture for problems as diverse as addiction, morning sickness, and back pain.

Acute Back Pain

The most common type of back pain. Acute back pain often begins suddenly — after a fall or injury, for example — and lasts for 12 weeks or less.

Arthritis

Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes.

C-D

Chiropractor

Someone who practices chiropractic. Chiropractic is defined as a system of diagnosis and treatment that is based on the concept that the nervous system coordinates all of the body's functions and that disease results from a lack of normal nerve function. Chiropractors work to manipulate the spine to realign the vertebrae and relieve pressure on the nerves.

Chronic Back Pain

Back pain lasting more than 12 weeks in duration and usually progressive in nature as well as difficult to determine cause. Occurs less frequently than acute back pain.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

A therapy that helps people in the way they think (cognitive) and in the way they act (behavior). A highly structured psychotherapeutic method used to alter distorted attitudes and problem behavior by identifying and replacing negative inaccurate thoughts and changing the rewards for behaviors.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

A test that allows your provider to view spinal structures that cannot be seen on traditional x-rays. A CT scan produces a three-dimensional image that a computer creates from a series of two-dimensional pictures that it takes of your back.

Degenerative Disc Disease

A disc deterioration that some people experience as they age. The condition can cause some discs to break down and cause severe pain.

E-G

Endorphins

A type of natural chemicals that are released by the pituitary gland through vigorous exercise, excitement and pain.

Flexion Exercise

An exercise that creates a bending movement around a joint in a limb, such as the knee or elbow that decreases the angle between the bones of the limb at the joint.

H-K

Herniated Disc

Trauma or injury to the back can cause the cushioning discs to rupture or to protrude (herniate) from the spinal column; the disc then presses on the branching nerves. This pressure on the surrounding nerves can cause pain, weakness or numbness.

Ibuprofen

A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication used to relieve pain and fever. Ibuprofen is available in both over-the-counter and prescription strength.

Intervertebral Disc

Tough, flexible structures that cushion the vertebrae.

Intensive Interdisciplinary Rehab

Psychological interventions and exercise therapy, with cognitive/behavioral emphasis that can be used for patients with nonradicular low-back pain who do not respond to conventional, noninterdisciplinary therapies.

L-O

Ligaments

Strong bands of tissue that help to hold the bones of your spine in place and attach the large muscles of your back to the bones.

Lumbar spine

The lower portion of the spine. It is composed of five vertebrae.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A strong magnetic force to create an image. An MRI scan produces clear pictures of soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels.

Massage Therapy

Manipulation of tissues, such as by rubbing, stroking, or kneading with the hands or an instrument for therapeutic purposes.

Naprosyn

Brand name for generic drug Naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used for the management of mild to moderate pain, fever, and inflammation.

Neurologic Deficits

A problem in nerve, spinal cord, or brain function that affects a specific location, such as part of the face, an arm, or even a small area such as the tongue. It also refers to any problem with a specific nervous system function such as memory or emotion.

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)

Drugs used to block the COX enzymes and reduce prostaglandins throughout the body. As a consequence, ongoing inflammation, pain, and fever are reduced.

Obesity

A condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body and that in an adult is typically indicated by a body mass index of 30 or greater.

Opioids

A group of analgesic medications prescribed by a provider for relief of moderate to severe chronic pain.

Osteoarthritis

A disease in which the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones at the joints wears away, leading to pain, stiffness, and bony overgrowths, called spurs. It is the most common form of arthritis and becomes more likely with age.

Osteopath

An osteopathic physician who is a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO). Osteopathic physicians complete a course of study equivalent to that of an MD at an osteopathic medical school and are trained in the awareness of the effects of body mechanics on health and disease processes. Osteopaths are licensed to practice medicine and may undergo medical specialty training. They may prescribe medication and perform surgery, and they often use manipulation techniques similar to used in chiropractic care or physical therapy.

Osteoporosis

A condition in which the bones become porous and brittle, and break easily.

P-R

Physical Therapist

A person trained and certified by a state or accrediting agency to design and implement physical therapy programs. Physical therapists may work in a hospital or clinic, in a school providing assistance to special education students, or as an independent practitioner.

Progressive Relaxation

The deliberate tensing and relaxation of muscles in order to release muscle tension.

Ruptured Disc

Also called a herniated disc. Trauma or injury to the back can cause the cushioning discs to rupture or to protrude (herniate) from the spinal column; the disc then presses on the branching nerves. This pressure on the surrounding nerves can cause pain, weakness or numbness.

S-T

Spasms

An involuntary and abnormal contraction of muscle or muscle fibers or of a hollow organ (as an artery, the colon, or the esophagus) that consists largely of involuntary muscle fibers.

Spinal Cord

The major column of nerve tissue that is connected to the brain and lies within the vertebral canal and from which the spinal nerves emerge. The spinal cord and the brain constitute the central nervous system (CNS). The spinal cord consists of nerve fibers that transmit impulses to and from the brain.

Spinal Manipulation

A treatment option used by people with low-back pain in attempts to relieve pain and improve functioning. Professionals manipulate the spine to realign the vertebrae and relieve pressure on the nerves.

Spinal Stenosis

The narrowing of the spinal canal (through which the spinal cord runs), often by the overgrowth of bone caused by osteoarthritis of the spine.

Spine

The column of bone known as the vertebral column, which surrounds and protects the spinal cord.

Spondylolisthesis

A condition in which a vertebra of the lumbar (lower) spine slips out of place.

Sprain

A sudden or violent twist or wrench of a joint or muscle, causing the stretching or tearing of ligaments.

Tai Chi

A Chinese exercise system that uses slow, smooth body movements to achieve a state of relaxation of both body and mind.

Tailbone

The small bone at the bottom of the spine.

Tendons

The tissue by which a muscle attaches to bone. A tendon is somewhat flexible, but fibrous and tough.

Tumor

An abnormal benign or malignant new growth of tissue that possesses no physiological function and arises from uncontrolled, usually rapid, cellular proliferation.

U-Z

Vertebrae

The individual bones that make up the spinal column.

Vertebral Fracture

A cracked or broken vertebrae.

X-Ray

Traditional x-rays use low levels of radiation to project a picture onto a piece of film, while some newer x-rays use electronic imaging techniques. They are often used to view the bones and bony structures in the body.

Yoga

A system of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation derived from Yoga but often practiced independently especially in Western cultures to promote bodily or mental control and wellbeing.