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Glossary of Chiropractic Terms


A

Abdomen

The front part of the body that lies between the chest and pelvis.

Activator Methods®

A diagnostic approach as well as a handheld instrument that is used to deliver a consistent low-force, high-speed chiropractic adjustment.

Acute

Of short duration and relatively severe.

Adjustment

An intervention with the intent of facilitating the body’s ability to “right” itself and function more normally.

Afferent

Carrying impulses towards a center; when sensory nerve impulses are sent toward the brain.

Antalgic Position

An abnormal position of the body resulting from the body’s attempt to minimize pain.

Anterior

Toward the front of the body.

Articulation

The connection of bones; a joint.

Atlas

The uppermost and most freely movable bone of the spine.

Atrophy

A decrease in the size of a normally developed tissue or organ.

Autonomic Nervous System

The part of the nerve system that regulates involuntary action, as of the intestines, heart, and glands, and comprises the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

B

Bilateral

Pertaining to both sides of the body or structure.

Biomechanics

The application of mechanical laws to living structures.

Blocks/blocking

Wedge-shaped devices used by SOT® practitioners to raise one or both sides of the pelvis into a healthier pattern for better support of the spine and head.

Brain Stem

The “primitive” and oldest area of the brain.

Bursitis

Inflammation of a bursa (e.g. knee and shoulder), which is a fluid-filled sac situated where friction would otherwise develop.

C

CAT scan

Computer-aided Tomography. An imaging device that uses narrow X-ray beams and a computer to create a type of three-dimensional X-ray.

Central Nerve System

The brain and spinal cord.

Cerebellum

The “hind” brain.

Cerebral Hemispheres

“The “higher” brain, which is the most evolved area of the brain.

Cervical

The vertebrae of the neck, usually seven bones.

Chronic

Persisting for a long period of time.

Coccyx

A series of small bones at the end of the sacrum commonly called the tailbone.

Compensation Reaction

A new problem that results from the body’s attempt to respond to a problem elsewhere in the body (i.e. the spine).

Compressive Lesion

A malfunctioning spinal bone or bones that result in direct pressure on a spinal nerve resulting in decreased nerve transmission.

Congenital

Existing at, or dating from birth.

Co-pay

An amount paid by the insured for losses covered by a policy after the deductible amount has been met.

CT Scan

Also known as CAT Scan or Computer Aided Tomography, which uses pencil-thin X-ray beams and a computer to create a type of three-dimensional X-ray.

D

Davis series

Seven X-ray views of the upper spine that are helpful in instances of whiplash injury.

Dermatomes

Tests used to reveal areas of skin and their sensitivity, serviced by nerves distributed from the spinal cord.

Diagnosis

The act of distinguishing one health problem from another.

Diagnostic imaging

The use of X-rays, MRI, CAT scans, electromyography (EMG), thermography and other tools to create pictures of the structure and function of the body.

Diathermy

The therapeutic use of high-frequency current to create heat within an area of the body.

Disability

The partial or total loss of mental or physical abilities caused by an injury or disease that prevents a person from engaging in some or all of the duties of his or her usual occupation.

Disc Herniation

An extreme bulging of the soft nucleus pulposus into a defect or weakened area of fibrous disc exterior.

Disc

Cartilage (cushion/pad) that separates each spinal vertebra, absorbs shocks to the spine, protects the nerve systems and assists in creating the four spinal lateral curves (also known as intervertebral disc).

Disease

Any deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or function of any part, organ, or system of the body that is manifested by a characteristic set of symptoms whose prognosis may be known or unknown.

Dorsal

Pertaining to the back; the twelve thoracic vertebrae are also referred to as dorsal vertebrae.

E

Edema

A condition in which fluid fills a damaged joint area with excessive fluid causing swelling, similar to the swelling of a twisted ankle.

Efferent

Carrying away from a central organ; nerve impulses leaving the brain to peripheral tissues.

EMG

Electromyogram; a device used to measure muscle tone and detect vertebral subluxation patterns by detecting changes in electrical activity in millionths of a volt.

EMS

Electro-muscle stimulation; a form of electrical stimulation designed to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Examination

The process of inspecting and testing the body and its systems to determine the presence or absence of disease or injury.

Extension

To stretch out or to spread to the fullest length or reach.

F

Facet

A small, smooth area on bone or another hard surface.

Facilitative Lesion

A twisting or stretching of nerve tissue due to a malfunctioning spine.

Fixation

Being held in a fixed position. An area of the spine with restricted movement.

Flaccid

Soft, limp.

Flexion

To bend to the side, forward, or backward.

Foramen

A small opening.

Frontal

Pertaining to the forehead.

G

There are no Terms that begin with the letter “G”.

H

Health

A state of optimal physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

Homeostasis

A state of physiological equilibrium produced by a balance of functions and of  chemical composition within an organism.

Hypermobility

Excess movement of an area of the spine.

Hypomobility

Restricted movement of an area of the spine.

I

ICD-9 Codes

International Classification of Diseases Codes.

Impairment

A loss, alteration or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.

Inferior

Lower in position.

Inflammation

A reaction of soft tissue due to injury that may include malfunction, discomfort, rise in temperature, swelling and increased blood supply.

Initial Intensive Care

A type of chiropractic care characterized by frequent visits for the purpose of eliminating or reducing the patient’s major complaint.

Interference

Damage or deficit to the nervous system.

Intervertebral Disc

Fibrocartilage padding between vertebral bodies that act as a shock absorber, with a pulpy center that functions as a ball bearing.

Intervertebral Foramina

The lateral opening through which spinal nerve roots exit the spinal column.

J

There are no Terms that begin with the letter “J”.

K

Kyphosis

From the side, the backward curve of the spine seen in the thoracic spine.

L

Lateral

The side view of the body.

Lipping

The development of a bony outgrowth.

Listing

A system used to describe the motion or position of vertebral segments in relation to adjacent vertebral segments.

Lordosis

From the side, the forward curve of the spine found in the cervical and lumbar spine.

Lumbar

The vertebrae of the lower back, usually five bones.

M

Maintenance Care

A type of chiropractic care designed to maintain a patient’s improved health and spinal function.

Massage

Methodical pressure, friction and kneading of the body upon bare skin.

Maximum medical improvement

A point in the patient’s care in which they have reached their pre-incident or accident condition, usually ending the insurance company’s obligations.

MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging. A device using strong magnets and radio waves to create an image of the internal structures of the body.

N

Narrative

A written report by the doctor that includes a patient’s health history, a description of the patient’s complaint(s), examination findings, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis.

Neural Canal

The opening in the spine through which the spinal cord passes.

Neurological

Pertaining to the nervous system.

Neurologist

A medical doctor who is a specialist in the nervous system.

Nucleus pulposus

The gelatinous mass in the center of the intervertebral disc.

O

Objective complaints

What the doctor finds by examination.

Oblique

Slanting; diagonal.

Occipital

Pertaining to the back of the head.

Orthopedics

Pertaining to the correction or prevention of deformities of the musculoskeletal system.

Orthopedist

A medical doctor who specializes in the preservation and restoration of the skeletal system and its articulations.

Osteopathy

A medical therapy that emphasizes manipulative procedures and uses medication or surgery and specializes in various areas of medicine.

P

Palpation

Examining the spine with your fingers; the art of feeling with the hand.

Pathology

A disease process.

Pathophysiology

A malfunction of the body system(s) and/or spine.

Pediatrics

The care of infants and children and the treatment of their diseases.

Peripheral Nerve System

The nervous system that connects the central nervous system with every cell, tissue, and organ of the body.

Physiology

The biological science of essential and characteristic life processes, activities and functions; the vital processes of an organism.

Physiotherapy

Treatment with physical and mechanical means, such as massage, electricity, etc.

Posterior

Towards the back of the body.

Post-examination

An examination used to monitor the healing process and the patient’s progress towards recovery.

Pre-authorization

The prior approval required by some payors before benefit payments will be granted.

Preventive care

Health care that focuses on early detection and treatment in an attempt to reduce costs.

Prognosis

A prediction of the probable course and outcome of a disease or the likelihood of recovery from a disease.

Prone

Lying horizontally with the face downward.

PT

Physical therapy.

Q

There are no Terms that begin with the letter “Q”.

R

Radiograph

A specially sensitised film that records the internal structures of the body by the passage of X-rays. An X-ray film.

Range of Motion

The range, measured in degrees of a circle, through which a joint can be extended and flexed.

Rare Earth Screens

A phosphorous-coated panel placed next to X-ray film that glows when it is exposed to X-ray radiation, reducing exposures and enhancing the image.

Reflex

An involuntary action resulting from a stimulus.

Rehabilitative Care

A type of chiropractic care with the objective of strengthening the spine and providing optimum healing of the function of the spine, associated tissues and organ systems.

Relief Care

See Initial Intensive Care.

Report of Findings

A short presentation, usually by the doctor, describing the patient’s problem, how long it will take to correct and the prognosis.

S

S.O.A.P notes

A system of patient record keeping based on the patient’s Subjective complaints, Objective complaints, doctor’s Assessment, and treatment Plan.

Sacrum

The triangular bone at the base of the spine.

Sciatica

A type of pain that radiates from the back into the buttocks and into the leg caused by the irritation of the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body.

Scoliosis

A sideways curve of the spine as viewed from the back.

Slipped Disc

An incorrect name given a condition in which a disc becomes wedge-shaped and bulges. In extreme cases, this pressure will cause a disc to rupture.

SOT®

SOT® stands for Sacro Occipital Technique®, a method of normalising the relationship between the foundation of the spine and the top of the spine by specifically positioning the body to use its weight to make corrections.

Spasm

A contraction of muscle tissue.

Spinous Process

A posterior protruding part of a spinal bone that can be seen or felt when examining the spine.

Spurring

A projecting body, as from a bone.

Subjective Complaints

Those problems identified by the patient such as headaches, leg pain, etc.

Superior

Upper or higher in position.

Supine

Lying horizontal on the back with the face upward.

T

Technique

A specific procedure, method or maneuver used to correct spinal problems.

Therapy

Methods used to assist in the relief of pain, rehabilitation and restoration of normal body functions.

Thoracic

Pertaining to the part of the spinal column from the base of the neck to about six inches above the waistline.

Traction

The act of drawing or exerting a pulling force, as along the long axis of a structure.

Transverse Process

Lateral protrusions (wings) of bone from the vertebrae to which powerful muscles attach.

Trigger Point

An involuntarily tight band of muscle that is painful when pressed and can cause referred pain in other parts of the body.

U

Ultrasound

High-frequency inaudible sounds whose vibrations can be used for heating internal structures of the body.

V

Vertebra

Any of the individual bones of the spinal column.

W

Wellness Care

Health care that is not prompted by sickness or injury but by an attempt to achieve or promote an optimum state of physical, mental and social well-being.

Whiplash

An injury to the cervical spine caused by an abrupt jerking motion of the head, either backward or forward.

X

X-rays

Electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate many objects and reveal their internal structure by recording the shadow cast on photographic plates.

Y

There are no Terms that begin with the letter “Y”.

Z

There are no Terms that begin with the letter “Z”.

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