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Glossary - Orthopedic Surgery

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ankylosing spondylitis - a disease that affects the spine, causing the bones of the spine to grow together.

anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) - the ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone).

anterolateral shin splint - a type of shin splint that affects the front and outer part of the muscles of the shin and is caused by a congenital (present at birth) imbalance in the size of opposite muscles.

arthritis - inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and sometimes change in structure.

arthrogram - an x-ray to view bone structures following an injection of a contrast fluid into a joint area. When the fluid leaks into an area that it does not belong, disease or injury may be considered, as a leak would provide evidence of a tear, opening, or blockage.

arthroscopy - a minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube (arthroscope) which is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen; used to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.


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bursa - a sac filled with fluid located between a bone and a tendon or muscle.

bursitis - repeated small stresses and overuse that cause the bursa to swell and become irritated.

bunion - an inflammation and thickening of the bursa in the joint of the big toe.


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carpal tunnel syndrome - a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, a narrow confined space. Since the median nerve provides sensory and motor functions to the thumb and three middle fingers, many symptoms may result.

cartilage - a smooth material that covers bone ends of a joint to cushion the bone and allow the joint to move easily without pain.

cast - a cast holds a broken bone in place as it heals, prevents, or decreases muscle contractures, or provides immobilization, especially after surgery. Casts immobilize the joint above and the joint below the area that is to be kept straight and without motion.

computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

congenital - present at birth.

contusion - bruise.

corn - a yellowish, callus growth that develops on top of the toes.

cubital tunnel - a tunnel of muscle, ligament, and bone on the inside of the elbow.


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dislocation - a dislocation occurs when extreme force is put on a ligament causing the two bone ends to separate. Dislocations can also affect a joint, the point where two or more bones come together. The joint is created as a "ball-and-socket" joint. A dislocated joint causes the head of the bone (ball) to partially or completely come out of the socket.


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electromyogram (EMG) - a test to evaluate nerve and muscle function


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femur - thighbone.

fibromyalgia (Also called fibrositis.) - a chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body.

fracture - a break in a bone.


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ganglion cysts - non-cancerous, fluid-filled cysts are common masses or lumps in the hand and usually found on the back of the wrist.

gout - a result of a defect in body chemistry (such as uric acid in the joint fluid), this painful condition most often attacks small joints, especially the big toe. It can usually be controlled with medication and changes in diet.


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hammertoe - a permanent sideways bend in the middle toe joint.

heat exhaustion - a form of heat-related illness that is more severe than heat cramps and results from a loss of water and salt in the body. It occurs in conditions of extreme heat and excessive sweating without adequate fluid and salt replacement. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself properly. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.

heel spur - a bone growth on the heel bone.

humerus - the bone of the upper arm.


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inflammation - a normal reaction to injury or disease, which results in swelling, pain, and stiffness.


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joint - where the ends of two or more bones meet.

juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) - a form of arthritis in children ages 16 or younger that causes inflammation and stiffness of joints for more than six weeks. Unlike adult rheumatoid arthritis, which is chronic and lasts a lifetime, children often outgrow juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. However, the disease can affect bone development in the growing child.


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lateral collateral ligament (LCL) - the ligament that gives stability to the outer knee.

lateral epicondylitis (Also known as tennis elbow.) - pain is caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist backward away from the palm.

ligaments - a white, shiny, flexible band of fibrous tissue that binds joints together and connects various bones and cartilage.


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magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

medial collateral ligament (MCL) - the ligament that gives stability to the inner knee.

medial epicondylitis (Also known as golfer's elbow, baseball elbow, suitcase elbow, or forehand tennis elbow.) - pain caused by damage to the tendons that bend the wrist toward the palm.

menisci - two crescent-shaped discs of connective tissue between the bones of the knees that act as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body.

Morton's neuroma - A pinched nerve that usually causes pain between the third and fourth toes.

muscular dystrophy (MD) - a broad term that describes a genetic (inherited) disorder of the muscles. MD causes the muscles in the body to become very weak. The muscles break down and are replaced with fatty deposits over time. The most common form of MD is called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

musculoskeletal system - the complex system involving the body's muscles and skeleton, and including the joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves.

myelogram - involves the injection of a dye or contrast material into the spinal canal; a specific x-ray study that also allows careful evaluation of the spinal canal and nerve roots.


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orthopedic surgeon (Also called an orthopedist.) - a physician who diagnoses, treats, manages the rehabilitation process, and provides prevention protocols for patients who suffer from injury or disease in any of the components of the musculoskeletal system.

orthopedic surgery (Also called orthopedics.) - the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of injuries and diseases of the body's musculoskeletal system.

osteoarthritis - a condition caused by wear and tear that causes inflammation of the joint, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness.

osteoporosis - a condition that develops when bone is no longer replaced as quickly as it is removed.

overuse conditions - injuries due to minor trauma involving soft-tissue injuries - injuries that affect the bone, muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons.


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patella - kneecap.

plantar fascia - a long band of connecting tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot.

plantar warts - warts that occur on the sole of the foot and look like calluses as a result of an infection or a specific virus.

posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) - the ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls backward movement of the tibia (shin bone).

posteromedial shin splint - a type of shin splint that affects the back and inner part of the muscles of the shin and is caused by running and/or by wearing inappropriate footwear.

prosthesis - an artificial body part replacement.


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radionuclide bone scan - a nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the patient's bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.

radius - the shorter of the two bones of the forearm.

rheumatoid arthritis - an inflammatory disease that involves the lining of the joint (synovium). The inflammation often affects the joints of the hands and the feet and tends to occur equally on both sides of the body.

rheumatologist - a physician who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases that may affect joints, muscles, bone, skin and other tissues.

R.I.C.E. - Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.


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scleroderma - a very serious disease of the body's connective tissue that causes thickening and hardening of the skin.

scoliosis - a lateral, or sideways, curvature and rotation of the back bones (vertebrae), giving the appearance that the person is leaning to one side.

shin splints - damage to one of two groups of muscles along the shin bone that cause pain.

soft tissues - the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the musculoskeletal system.

sprain - a partial or complete tear of a ligament.

strain - a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon.

stress fracture - a bone injury caused by overuse.

synovial fluid - a clear, sticky fluid that is released by the synovial membrane and acts as a lubricant for joints and tendons.

systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) - a very serious, chronic, autoimmune disorder characterized by periodic episodes of inflammation of and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and organs, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and skin.


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tendon - the tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones.

tendonitis - an inflammation in a tendon or the tendon covering.

tibia - shin bone or larger bone of the lower leg.

trigger finger - an irritation of the digital sheath that surrounds the flexor tendons of the finger. When the tendon sheath becomes thickened or swollen it pinches the tendon and prevents it from gliding smoothly. In some cases, the tendon catches and then suddenly releases as though a trigger were released.


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ulnar bone - the longer of the two bones in the forearm.

ultrasound - a diagnostic technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.


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x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.


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