Glossary of Terms

Activator Adjusting Instrument
A handheld percusive devise used by chiropractors for low force adjusting procedures and treatment. It delivers a quick and precise adjustment to the spine, and is done in place of using the doctors' hands.
Acupressure
Manual pressure applied to specific acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating or inhibiting neurological flow to various organs, glands or tissues, with the purpose of returning the body to a normal status.
Acute back pain
Back pain that lasts a short while, usually a few days to several weeks. Episodes lasting longer than three months are not considered acute.
Adjustment
A specific treatment to the human body designed to improve the integrity of a joint. In the Chiropractic profession there are over 60 separate and different ways to give an adjustment.
Arthritis
An inflammatory condition of the joints that can or cannot be disabling. It can result in joint disfigurement and restricted joint mobility. Categorized into as many as 12 types, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid.
Backache
Back pain is one of the most common ailments treated by Doctors of Chiropractic. Symptoms can be anything from pain to stiffness, numbness, burning sensations or all of the above. Your Doctor of Chiropractic will evaluate your condition by thorough examination. Backache can be treated by a Doctor of Chiropractic through spinal adjustments and physical therapy/ rehab.
Bell's Palsy
An affliction of the nerves of the face that can cause excruciating, piercing pain with accompanying muscles spasms and facial contortions.
Bone Spur
An extra calcium deposit in response to injury, such as degenerative arthritis.
Cavitation
Pop that occurs in a spinal joint when vertebral surfaces (facets) are separated to create a vacuum that pulls in nitrogen gas.
Cervical vertebrae
There are seven vertebrae in the cervical or neck area of the spine.
Chiropractic and Chiropractic Physician
A primary health care profession in which professional responsibility and authority are focused on the anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the spine, and immediate articulation and the condition of surrounding nerves.
Chronic back pain
Back pain episode that lasts more than three months.
Consultation
A specific time set aside between the physician and either the patient and/or family member or interested person for the purpose of discussing the history of the complaint, the complaint and/or proposed treatment recommendations.
Cox flexion-distraction technique
Method of applying manually controlled distraction or stretching to specific spinal segments with the assistance of a movable table.
Cranial Nerves
12 pairs of specialized nerves that have their origins within the cranium or brain cavity.
CT - Computerized Tomography
A special radiological procedure to more clearly identify possible pathologies/abnormalities within the human body.
D.C.
Abbreviation for "doctor of chiropractic."
Diagnosis
The use of scientific and skillful methods to establish the cause and nature of a person's illness.
Disc
A cartilage (cushion/pad) that separates spinal vertebrae, absorbs shock to the spine, and adds motion to the lumbar spine.
Disc Degeneration (Degenerative Arthritis)
Drying, thinning of the disc as a result of accelerated wear and tear.
Disease
An impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors.
Diversified
Diversified is a technique that is taught at most major chiropractic colleges. It is primarily the use of the practitioner's hands to make the spinal correction. Many times an audible click or pop will be heard as the correction is made.
Electrotherapy
Pertains to the use of electrical stimulation of the body. It may be used to control pain, increase blood and lymphatic circulation, reduce muscle spasm, relax or stimulate the nervous system, or aid in the healing process.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Physiological therapeutic introduction of electrical stimulation at a predetermined frequency, intensity and rate for the purpose of achieving a physiological response to promote healing.
End Plate
The cartilage between the bone of the vertebrae and the disc, to serve as attachment point for the fibers of the disc.
Examination
The act or process of inspecting or testing for evidence of disease or abnormality.
Facets
The surfaces of the weight-bearing portion of the vertebrae, a part of the posterior joints of the vertebrae.
Geriatrics
Most doctors of chiropractic treat geriatric patients within their practices. Doctors of chiropractic are licensed and extensively trained to diagnose and treat people of all ages. Seniors may be treated with a light, medium or firm adjustment depending on their age, degree of degeneration etc. There are doctors of chiropractic specializing in the treatment of elderly patients.
Health
The state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.
Intervertebral disk
The tough cartilage that serves as a cushion between two vertebrae. Each disk has a gelatinous-like center (nucleus pulposus) that may protrude to form a disk herniation.
Joint fixation
Diminished movement within a joint space.
Ligament
A band of fibrous tissue that connects bones or cartilages, serving to support and strengthen joints
Lower Back Pain
It is said eight out of ten of us suffer from some kind of lower back pain. Research shows that the majority of such pain is caused by a mechanical misalignment in one or more segments of the lower or lumbar spine. The spinal column provides protection for the spinal cord. It is made up of segments called "vertebra", which must be positioned correctly in order to function properly and have a normal range of motion. When the lower vertebra is out of alignment, the discs, the spines shock absorber, can swell or tear causing it to bulge or herniate. This bulging can pinch the nerve between the vertebra producing pain, numbness, tingling or burning sensations. This condition can be treated by a Doctor of Chiropractic through spinal adjustments and physical therapy/ rehab which can correct the misalignment in the low back region of the spinal cord.
Lumbar vertebrae
The five bones in the lower-back portion of the spine.
Lumbar spine
The five bones in the lower-back portion of the spine. The five vertebrae are: L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, and sometimes the anomaly L6.
Manipulation
Passive therapeutic techniques used to stretch restricted joints or reposition a subluxation. The techniques are sometimes applied with rapid thrust movements and may be applied with the patient under anesthesia to ensure maximum relaxation.
Massage
Many doctors of chiropractic incorporate a massage therapist within their office. Massage is used to increase circulation of blood and lymphatic, help with pain reduction, and muscle spasms.
Mechanoreceptor
A specialized nerve ending that has been found to influence the neurological response of the brain, spinal cord and spinal nerves.
Migraine
A severe headache, usually in females, that causes vasodilatation of the arteries and veins in the head; etiology can be nerves, hormones, glands, diet or stress; at least 12 varieties established.
Mobilization
Method of manipulation, movement, or stretching to increase range of motion in muscles and joints
Musculoskeletal
Referring to structures involving tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints.
MRI
Magnetic resonance imaging, a diagnostic tool that subjects the patient's body to massive doses of magnetism to induce an energy reading that the MRI computer interprets as images based upon water content and the hydrogen ion, non-invasive and non-radioactive.
Nerves
A bundle of fibers forming a network that transmits messages in the form of impulses between the brain or spinal cord and the body's organs.
Nerve root
One of the two nerve bundles emerging from the spinal cord that join to form a segmental spinal nerve.
Nervous System
The system of nerves including the brain, the cranial nerves, the spinal cord, the spinal nerves, and the peripheral nerves; includes the autonomic (sympathetic and parasympathetic) nerves.
N.S.A.I.D.S
A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (as ibuprofen)
Orthopedics
A branch of medicine concerned with the correction or prevention of skeletal deformities
Osteoarthritis
A slow degeneration of the joints that connect your bones and allow you to move. Aging, injury, poor posture and excess weight can cause joints to wear down and become stiff and painful.
Pain
An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience arising from actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.
Palpation
Examining the spine with your fingers; the art of feeling with the hand.
Paresthesia
Abnormal or loss of normal sensation.
Physical Therapy
The treatment of disease by physical and mechanical means (as massage, regulated exercise, water, light, heat, and electricity)
Pinched Nerves
Laymen's term for pain perceived to be coming from the back or spine; physically difficult to "pinch" the nerve.
Preventative Care
Care rendered to existing patient; designed to prevent a condition from worsening and/or returning; necessary care usually due to a persistent weakness or permanent impairment.
Primary Contact Health Care Provider
Any health care provider capable of providing first level contact and intake into the health delivery system, (b) any health care provider licensed to receive patient contact in the absence of physician referral.
Proprioceptors
Sensory nerve terminals which give information concerning movements and position of the body; they occur chiefly in the muscles, tendons, and the labyrinth.
Radiograph
Proper term for an x-ray film after it has been exposed to radiation (x-ray).
Range of Motion
The range, measured in degrees of a circle, through which a joint may be moved.
Sacrum
The triangular shaped bone located just below the Lowest Lumbar vertebrae (L5), formed usually by five fused vertebrae (sacral vertebrae) that are wedged dorsally between the left and right illiums.
Sciatica
An inflammation of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in your body. It runs from your lower spine, through your buttocks, then into your leg and foot. There are actually two (2) sciatic nerves, one in each leg. When the sciatic nerve is inflamed, it can cause numbness, tingling, pain or weakness in your lower back and leg.
Scoliosis
Scoliosis is an abnormal, curvature of the spine. Scoliosis has many causes; some due to injury while others are inherited. One common reason for scoliosis is abnormal development of the vertebra in the spine. The most common form of scoliosis is an abnormal pattern of muscle and ligament growth as a teenager grows in height.
Scope of Practice
The legal definition of the activities that a profession can or cannot do.
Spinal manipulation
A force applied to the joint and high-velocity thrust that stretches a joint beyond its passive range of movement in order to increase its mobility. Manipulation is usually accompanied by an audible pop or click.
Spinal Nerves
24 pairs of nerves exiting from the spinal cord at segmental levels of the spinal column.
Spinous Process
A posterior protruding part of the spinal bone that can be seen or felt when examining the spine.
Sports Injury
Some sports injuries are due to improper stretching while others are accidental injuries during the activity. In either case it is important to diagnose and treat such injuries quickly to prevent further aggravation or damage to the specific area. Doctors of Chiropractic have extensive training in the area of sports medicine and can diagnose and effectively treat sports related injuries. Spinal adjustments and physical therapy/ rehab have proven to be very successful in correcting the injury and getting you back to normal activity faster.

No matter what your recreational activity may be, don't let sports related injuries or pains go unattended, consult a Doctor of Chiropractic for evaluation.
Spurs
A projecting body, relating to a bone spur, associated with degenerative arthritis.
Spurring
The process of spur formation.
Subluxation
When a vertebra of the spine loses its proper position and becomes misaligned with the vertebrae above and below it, thus compromising the nerves, which results in interference of nerve transmissions from the brain to tissues, organs, and muscles.
Technique
One of several treatment methods.
Tendon
A fibrous cord by which a muscle is attached.
Therapy
The use of modalities, or machines, to augment the adjustment. May include ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, traction, massage, heat/cold, infrared, laser, and others.
Thoracic vertebrae
There are twelve vertebrae in the thoracic or upper-back portion of the spine.
TMJ Syndrome
A group of symptoms that may include pain in the temporomandibular joint, headache, earache, neck, back, or shoulder pain, limited jaw movement, or a clicking or popping sound in the jaw and that are caused either by dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (as derangement of the articular disk) or another problem (as spasm of the masticatory muscles) affecting the region of the temporomandibular joint.
Torticollis
Involuntary spasms of the musculature of the spine in the neck.
Traction
Either intersegmental or elongation, used to reduce swelling, ease spasms, or assist in the realignment of vertebral segments.
Treatment
The action or manner of treating a patient medically or surgically.
Ultrasound
High frequency sound waves, sometimes accompanied with a form of electrical muscle stimulation, administered to areas of pain, spasm or inflamation.
Vax-D (vertebral axial decompression)
Intended to nonsurgically relieve chronic low back pain or sciatica symptoms from degenerated or herniated discs.
Vertebra
Bony segment of the spine that encircles and helps protect the spinal cord and nerves. The plural of vertebra is vertebrae.
Vertebrae
One or twenty-four moveable segments of the human spinal column. Two vertebrae adjacent to each other form a motor unit.
Vertebral artery
Arteries, one on each side, that thread through holes in the six upper cervical vertebrae.
Vertigo
Sensation of dizziness and the feeling that oneself or one's surroundings are whirling about. See B.P.V. (benign positional vertigo)
Whiplash. (aka C.A.D. hyperflexion and hypertension)
Whiplash of the neck is caused by any sudden involuntary forced movement of the head in any direction, and the resultant rebound of the head or neck in the opposite direction. Consequently there are injuries to the surrounding and supporting tissues of the neck and head.

Whiplash may occur without you being aware of it. Because of the degrees in which it occurs, symptoms may not always appear immediately. What occurs during the accident is ligaments are stretched beyond their limit for which they were intended. This will result in muscle spasms, alteration of the normal curve of the neck and spine and the resultant limitation of movement. An experienced Doctor of Chiropractic can diagnose and correct these problems with spinal adjustments and physical therapy/ rehab. to the effected area.

If you were involved in an accident or suffer from trauma to the head or neck, consult a Doctor of Chiropractic for evaluation.