Have you ever heard a word or term used in the doctor’s office and thought “what the heck does that mean”? Or, maybe a friend is describing their latest skiing injury and, much to your dismay, you have no idea what all the technical jargon that’s being tossed around actually means. Regardless of the reason, we thought we’d assemble an orthopaedic mini-dictionary of sorts – just the basics for now – so that you’d know what some of the more commonly used terminology actually means…knowledge is power, after all! We’re going to split this up alphabetically; so, we’ll go through A-L today, and then tackle the second half of the alphabet here soon!
Achilles Tendon – a tendon connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone.
Achilles Tendonitis – inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
Arthroscopic Surgery – a minimally invasive surgical procedure that examines and sometimes treats damage to the interior of a joint through a device called an arthroscope, which is inserted into the joint through one or more small incisions.
Active Motion – joint motion carried out by the patient.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) – a ligament in the knee that crosses from the underside of the femur (the thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (the bigger bone in the lower leg). Injuries to the ACL can occur in a number of situations, including sports, and can be quite serious, requiring surgery.
Arthritis – the inflammation of a joint. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis.
Arthrodesis – a bone fusion done to relieve pain, usually in the ankles, wrists, fingers, and thumbs. The two bones forming a joint are joined together so that the resulting fused joint loses flexibility. However, a fused joint can bear weight better, is more stable, and is no longer painful.
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.
Arthroplasty – reconstructive surgery of a joint or joints to restore motion because of ankylosis or trauma or to prevent excessive motion.
Arthroscopy – a surgical technique whereby a tube-like instrument is inserted into a joint to inspect, diagnose and repair tissues. It is most commonly performed in patients with diseases of the knees or shoulders.
Avulsion – tearing away. A nerve can be avulsed by an injury, as can part of a bone.
Bankart Repair – for unstable dislocating shoulders. Currently performed using arthroscopic techniques. Was initially described in 1909 by Dr. Bankart using open techniques.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – loss of sensation (and sometimes motor control if the median nerve is cut off at the wrist) because of compression of the nerve at the carpal ligament.
Cartilage – the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions bones at joints.
Comminuted Fracture – a fracture in which bone is broken, splintered or crushed into a number of pieces.
Compound Fracture – a fracture in which the bone is sticking through the skin. This is also called an “open fracture”.
Congenital – a condition that is present at birth.
Contusion – another name for a bruise – it’s caused when blood vessels are damaged or broken as the result of a blow to the skin (be it bumping against something or hitting yourself with a hammer). The raised area of a bump or bruise results from blood leaking from these injured blood vessels into the tissues as well as from the body’s response to the injury. A purplish, flat bruise that occurs when blood leaks out into the top layers of skin is referred to as an “ecchymosis”.
Cartilage – the tough tissue that covers the ends of the bones at the joints. In arthritis, the cartilage in the joints degrades, causing limited movement and pain.
Dislocation – displacement of one or more bones at a joint.
External Fixation – a procedure that stabilizes and joins the ends of fractured (broken) bones by a splint or cast.
Flexion – the process of bending or the state of being bent.
Fracture – a break in a bone.
Greenstick Fracture – a fracture in which one side of a bone is broken while the other is bent.
Hammer Toe – a flexed (curled) but not abnormally rotated toe. May require surgical correction.
Internal Fixation – a surgical procedure that stabilizes and joins the ends of fractured (broken) bones by mechanical devices such as metal plates, pins, rods, wires or screws.
Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) – the ligament that gives stability to the outer knee.
Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) – a painful injury to the tendon that is attached to the outer part of the elbow, due to repetitive twisting of the wrist or forearm which causes irritation and inflammation of the extensor tendon.
Ligaments – a ligament is a tough band of connective tissue that connects the bones and keeps joints stable.
We want to make sure that our readers and patients are able to stay as informed as possible when it comes to their care. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule an appointment for any upper extremity and/or foot and ankle issues that you may be dealing with – Prairie Orthopaedics & Plastics is proud to be Lincoln’s choice for advanced treatment options for recovery of maximum mobility, strength, and return of function!
Source: Glossary of Orthopaedic Terms, BUOSA