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Glossary of Terms

Our objective is to empower our patients by educating them on medical terminology that may arise during the course of your treatment. Although we will discuss your condition and explain those terms during your treatment, we thought you may find it useful to have this glossary as a reference. Please feel free to let us know if there is a term not represented and we will gladly add it to our ever-evolving word bank!


Acute Wry Neck
A sudden onset of neck pain and stiffness, which is often accompanied by spasm of the surrounding neck muscles. This results in an inability to move your neck through its full range of motion.

Anterior Compartment Syndrome
Compartment syndrome is a serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow. The anterior compartment refers to the front compartment on the lower leg, specifically including the anterior tibialis muscle. Symptoms include pain and weakness during activity that typically subsides as with rest. The weakness results in difficulty lifting the foot upwards.

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage — the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint — to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that first targets the lining of joints (synovium).

Athletic Pubalgia
Weakness of the posterior inguinal wall due to injury to transversalis fascia or conjoint tendon without clinically palpable hernia. It is not a traditional hernia, but is sometimes referred to as a ‘sports hernia.’


Biomechanics or biomechanical
The study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms.

Bunion Toe Misalignment
A bunion is a painful swelling and excessive bony deposition on the first joint of the big toe. It is associated with malalignment of the big toe, as it angles towards the second toe.

Inflammation of a bursa. A bursa is a fluid-filled sac or saclike cavity situated in places in tissues where friction would otherwise occur – around joints.


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition in which there is excessive pressure on the median nerve. This is the nerve in the wrist that allows feeling and movement to parts of the hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers.

Certified Functional Manual Therapist (CFMT)
A physical therapist who has completed all required coursework and successfully passed a week-long examination encompassing theory and practice of Functional Manual Therapy™.

Cervical Radiculopathy
Irritation of a nerve root in the neck that can result in any of the following symptoms in isolation or combination: pain in the neck radiating into the arm and possibly the hand; numbness/tingling in the arm; weakness; feeling of extreme fatigue in the upper extremity.

Implies that the cause of the symptoms arise from the neck For example, a ‘cervicogenic headache’ implies that a dysfunction in the neck is the cause of the headache.

A medical term meaning pain in the coccyx or tailbone area.


Degenerative Disc / Joint Disease
— see osteoarthritis

An injury causing disruption of the normal joint alignment and damage to the ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves, and fascia surrounding the joint. A partial or incomplete dislocation is termed a subluxation.

A medical condition of pain during menstruation that interferes with daily activities.


A surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues.


Facet Dysfunction
A facet joint is a joint between two vertebrae. Arthritic changes and limitation of mobility at these joints can cause significant back pain, along with possible referral of pain to surrounding areas.

Frozen Shoulder
The medical term of this condition is adhesive capsulitis. It is a condition of uncertain etiology characterized by a progressive loss of both active and passive shoulder motion. Three stages of frozen shoulder have been identified: painful freezing, adhesion, and resolution.


Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic digestive disease. GERD occurs when stomach acid or, occasionally, stomach content, flows back into your food pipe (esophagus). The backwash (reflux) irritates the lining of your esophagus and causes GERD.

Golfer’s Elbow
The medical term of this condition is medial epicondylitis. Medial epicondylitis is pain over the bone on the inner side of the elbow. The piece of bone that can be felt on the inner side of the elbow is called the medial epicondyle. When the tendons attached to this bone are overstretched or torn, they can become painful.


Herniated Disc
A herniated disc is a condition in which the annulus fibrosus (outer portion) of the vertebral disc is torn, enabling the nucleus (inner portion) to herniate or extrude through the fibers.

The tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.


Typically this term is used in reference to the hip or shoulder joint. Impingement refers to the physical abutment of articulating bones either in the shoulder or the hip, resulting in inflammation of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bursa surrounding the joints – as these become impacted between the bones. This often leads to pain and limited mobility. In the shoulder, prolonged impingement can progress to tears of the rotator cuff.

ITB Syndrome or ITB Tendonitis
Iliotibial band syndrome is characterized by pain and tightness on the outside of the knee and associated with running and endurance sports. The iliotibial band is a thick band of fascia on the lateral aspect of the knee, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee.


Labral Tear
A labrum is a fibrous ring of cartilage attached to the rim of a joint. It allows for improved stability of the corresponding joint. The labrum of the shoulder and the hip are commonly injured: ‘torn’ or ‘frayed’.

A surgical procedure in which a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to view the organs in the abdomen or to permit a surgical procedure.

Levator Ani Syndrome
Levator ani syndrome is a condition characterized by brief intermittent burning pain or tenesmus of the rectal or perineal area.

Lumbar Radiculopathy
Irritation of a nerve root in the back that can result in any of the following symptoms in isolation or combination: pain in the lower back radiating into the buttock and/or leg and possibly the foot; numbness/tingling in the leg; weakness; feeling of extreme fatigue in the lower extremity.


Manual Neuromuscular Facilitation
This use of manual contacts with appropriate resistance to enhance the initiation, strength, and endurance of the neuromuscular system.

Mechanical (treatment)
Treatment that is directed to the structures of the body such as muscles, joints, nerves and organs to improve efficient motion.

Small and often minute traumas caused by overuse

Periodic headaches that can have such symptoms as aversion to light and sound, auras, irritability, nausea and vomiting.

Motor Control or Optimum Motor Control
Process in which the body uses the neuromuscular system to recruit the appropriate and efficient muscular activation for a coordinated movement to occur.

Myofascial Pain
Pain that is caused by a muscular irritation.


Neurological Conditions
Diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system.

Non-Bacterial Prostatitis
Inflammation and/or of the prostate not caused by a bacterial infection determined through negative urine cultures or expressed prostate secretions.


Optimal Function or Optimum Performance
A state in which the body is moving and working efficiently with the least amount of energy.

Orthopedic Injuries/Musculoskeletal Injuries
Trauma to the muscles and/or bones.


Patellar Tendonitis / Bursitis
Inflammation and/or pain to the patella tendon or the bursa located under the tendon.

Patello-femoral Pain Syndrome
Pain around the front of the knee often caused by the wearing down, roughing or softening of the cartilage underneath the knee cap.

Peroneal Tendonitis
Iflammation and/or pain of the tendons on the side of the lower leg and into the outside of the foot.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Wide range of conditions affecting the muscles of the pelvic floor causing them to either be weak or tight and can affect the SI joint, lower back, coccyx and hip joints.

Plantar Fasciitis
Inflammation and/or pain of the bottom of the foot that is worst in the morning when getting out of bed or upon standing after sitting for a prolonged time.

Pudendal Neuralgia
Entrapment of the pudendal nerve, which supplies the genitals, urethra, anus and perineum that can cause pelvic floor pain; also called Alcock’s Syndrome.


Residual Pain
Pain that continues after the trauma and normal inflammatory process has ceased.

Rib Dysfunction
Restrictions of the ribs that can cause pain or limit motion.

Rotational Force
An external force put onto the body of a rotational nature.


Sacroiliac Dysfunction
Pain in the sacroiliac joint region caused by abnormal motion of the joint, either too much or too little; also called sacroiliac joint disease, sacroiliac joint syndrome or sacroiliac syndrome.

Compression on the sacral nerve roots causing irritation of the sciatic nerve and pain in the low back, buttocks region and can go down to the back of the leg.

Spinal Stenosis
A narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord and/or the openings of the nerve roots (neural formina).

A condition where a vertebral segment slips either forward (anterolisthesis) or backward (retrolisthesis) in relation to the vertebral segment below.

Sprain / Strain
Trauma to the tendons/muscles (strain) or ligaments (sprain) ranging from elongation of the tissue to a complete tear.


Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
Pain and/or clicking of the jaw during opening and closing.

Inflammation of the tendon.

Tennis Elbow
Inflammation and/or pain of the outside of the elbow.

Thoracic Spine Pain
Pain pain in the area between the shoulder blades and ribcage.

TMJ Dysfunction
— see Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD).


Condition where there are involuntary spasms of the muscles surrounding the vagina impairing vaginal penetration.

Vestibular Dysfunctions
Condition affecting the system of the body responsible for balance and is located in the inner ear; some symptoms associated with vestibular dysfunctions are vertigo, Meniere's Disease and vestibular neuritis.

Chronic pain around the opening of the vagina (vulva) of unknown cause.


A trauma to the soft tissues and joints of the cervical spine caused by a sudden jerking or “whipping” of the head; typical in motor vehicle accidents.

Woodway Treadmill
A a slat belt treadmill designed for shock absorption that has been shown to reduce shock on the joints, muscles and connective tissue.

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