Commonly Used Terms in Chiropractic
We do our best to use everyday language in our patient explanations.
In case we don’t here are some common terms and their meanings.
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 Relatively severe and of short duration.
Adjustment A specific thrust or pressure delivered at the right time, location and angle to add motion to a “stuck” spinal joint.
Arthritis Inflammation of a joint that is often accompanied by symptoms and changes in structure.
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.
Chronic Persisting for a long period of time. A problem showing little change or of slow progression.
Coccyx A series of small bones below the sacrum that are also known as the tailbone.
Disc A cartilage (cushion/pad) that separates spinal vertebrae, absorbs shocks to the spine, protected the nervous system and assists in creating the four normal curves of the spine. Discs can bulge, herniated or rupture, but because of the way discs connect to the vertebrae above and below, they can’t “slip.”
Edema A condition in which fluid fills a damaged joint area causing welling; similar to the swelling of a sprained ankle or black eye.
Extremity Lower or upper limb, such as a leg or arm.
Fixation Being held in a fixed position. “Stuck.” A joint with restricted movement.
Herniation A protrusion of an organ or part of an organ through the wall that normally contains it.
Hypermobility Too much movement.
Hypomobility Restricted movement.
Ilium One of the two large bones that form the pelvis; the hipbone.
Inflammation A reaction of soft tissue due to injury that may include malfunction, discomfort, rise in temperature, swelling and increased blood supply.
Intervertebral Foramina The lateral opening through which spinal nerve roots exit on each side of the spinal column formed by each spinal joint.
Ligament A band or sheet of fibrous connective tissue that binds joints together.
Lordosis The forward curve of the spine, normally found in the cervical and lumbar areas of the spine.
Lumbar The vertebrae of the lower back, usually five bones.
Nucleus Pulposus The gelatinous mass in the center of a spinal disc.
Occipital Pertaining to the lower, posterior portion of the head or skull that rests on the spinal column.
Palpation Examining the spine with your fingers; the art of feeling with the hands.
Pinched Nerve (see Compressive Lesion)
Reflex An involuntary action resulting from a stimulus.
Sacroiliac The two joints where the hip bones connect to the sacrum.
Sacrum The triangular bone at the base of the spine.
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.
Scoliosis Looking form the back, a sideways curvature of the spine.
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. (See Herniation)
Spasm A constant contraction or tightening of a muscle.
Spinous Process The protruding part of the back of each spinal bone that can be seen or felt when examining the spine.
Subluxation A misalignment or malfunction of the spine that is less than a total dislocation, which affects the nervous system and its ability to correct control or monitor the organs and tissues of the body.
Tendon Fibrous tissue that connects muscles with bones.
Thoracic Pertaining to the twelve vertebrae of the middle back, from the base of the neck to about six inches above the waistline, to which the ribs attach.
Torticollis A contracted state of the neck muscles that produces a twisting of the neck and unnatural position of the head.
Traction The act of drawing or exerting a pulling force, as along the long axis of a structure.
Transverse Process Lateral protrusions (wings) on the side of each vertebra to which powerful muscles and ligaments attach.
Trigger Point An involuntarily tight band of muscle that is painful when pressed and can refer pain to other parts of the body.
Vertebra Any of the individual bones of the spinal column.
Vertebral Subluxation Complex Types of pathology resulting from a Vertebral Subluxation including kinesiopathology, neuropathophysiology, myopathology, histopatholgy and pathophysiology.
Whiplash An injury to the spine caused by an abrupt jerking motion either backward, forward or from the side.