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Glossary of Orthopedic Terms

Greater Orlando Orthopedic Group™

Nationally recognized Orthopedic Specialists in Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine

This glossary of orthopedic terms deems as reference guide providing definitions for common orthopedic health terms you may hear when being treated for an orthopedic related condition. Please feel free to ask your orthopedic specialist or any of our team members for further information.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) the ligament, located in the center of the knee, that controls rotation and forward movement of the tibia (shin bone).

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.

Avascular necrosis (AVN) a bone tissue disease that results from impaired or disrupted blood supply (as caused by injury or disease); results in severe pain in the affected region and weakened bone that may collapse; when AVN occurs near a joint, collapse of the joint surface is possible.

Bunion an inflammation and swelling of the bursa (small sac) on the first joint of the big toe.

Bursa a sac filled with fluid between a bone and a tendon or muscle.

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

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 contractions, 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.

CAT Scan a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan, also referred to as Computed Tomography scan, a medical imaging technique, shows detailed medical images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

Contusion an injury in which the skin is not broken, a bruise.

Cortisone a steroid preparation that can be injected into various areas of the body to provide pain relief from conditions such as an arthritic joint; in some cases, cortisone may alleviate problems like bursitis and tendonitis.

DeQuervain’s syndrome a painful condition at the wrist on the side closer to the thumb, resulting from tendons getting trapped beneath a ligament as they travel to the thumb; can be treated with a brace, a cortisone injection, or surgery to relieve the pressure on the tendon(s).

Direct Anterior Approach, the anterior approach provides the most direct access to the anterior aspect of the hip. Many orthopedic surgeons prefer this approach for reduction of femoral head and neck fractures. Often the primary surgical approach can be utilized for treatment of periprosthetic fractures. This is considered a greater challenge from the direct anterior approach, however it can be easily extended to perform most fracture surgeries effectively, while maintaining the posterior capsule and short external rotators.

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”. A dislocated joint causes the head of the bone (ball) to partially or completely come out of the socket.

Dupuytren’s contracture a thickening and shrinking of the fascia, the layer of deep tissue just under the skin of the palm; as the tissue shrinks, the fingers may be drawn into a bent position.

Electromyogram (EMG) a test to evaluate and record the electrical activity of the nerve or muscle function.

Femur or Thighbone.

Fracture a break, rupture, or crack of the bone or cartilage.

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 joint, especially the big toe. It can usually be controlled with medication and changes in diet.

Hammertoe a toe, usually the second toe, that is permanently flexed downward resulting in a claw-like shape.

Herniated disca painful rupture of the outer cartilage of a disc that results when the cushion that lies between vertebrae in the spine is pushed outside its normal position; symptoms can include pain, weakness, and/or numbness in the legs (lumbar disc) or arms (cervical disc).

Heel Spur a bone growth on the heel bone.

Humerus the bone of the upper arm.

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

Joint a point of contact between two or more bones; usually allows for movement.

Lateral Epicondylitis (also known as tennis elbow) pain 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.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radio frequencies, and computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Medial Epicondylitis (also know 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.

Meniscus or 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 benign growth of nerve tissue that usually develops between the third and fourth toes; symptoms can include a sharp, burning pain in the ball of the foot, stinging toes, and/or numbness in the foot.

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.

Orthopaedic Surgeon (also called an Orthopedist, Orthopaedist) 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, Orthopaedics) 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 the tendons.

Patella or Kneecap

PKA Partial Knee Arthroplasty or Partial Knee Replacement, also referred to as UKA or unicompartmental knee replacement, is a knee replacement surgery where only a portion of the knee is resurfaced with metal and plastic components. Partial knee arthroplasty (PKA), also termed unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA) when associated with a single compartment, has been performed for isolated single compartment knee osteoarthritis (OA) since the 1970s. PKA can be carried out in the medial, lateral or patellofemoral (PF) compartments.

Plantar Fascia a long band of connecting tissue running from the heel to the ball of the foot.

Prosthesis an artificial body part replacement.

Radius the shorter of the two bones of the forearm.

Rotator Cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that connect the arm to the shoulder joint and enable the arm to rotate.

Rheumatoid Arthritis RA 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.

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

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

Shin Splints damage to one of the two groups of muscles along the shin bone that causes pain.

Shoulder Impingement is a condition that occurs when a rotator cuff tendon or a bursa in the shoulder is compressed as the arm is raised; symptoms can include arm and shoulder pain, especially upon lifting the arm.

SLAP Lesion is a tear of a piece of cartilage that lines the socket of the shoulder joint; usually occurs after an injury to the shoulder and may require arthroscopic surgery for its repair.

Soft Tissues are the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the musculoskeletal system.

Sprain is 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.

Tendon the tough cords of the 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 on the tendon and prevents it from gliding smoothly. In some cases, the tendon catches and then suddenly releases as though a trigger were released.

Ulnar Bone is the longer of the two bones in the forearm.

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

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