Glossary of Terms

Term Definition
Activator A spring-loaded adjusting instrument that utilizes an extremely rapid pulse to help restore normal functioning in the body.
Acupressure The practice of applying; pressure on parts of the body to relieve pain.
Acupuncture The practice of inserting fine needles on specific meridian points for the purpose of relieving tension, stress, and pain. Highly useful in the treatment and relief of back pain.
Acute back pain Back pain that lasts a short while, usually a few days to several weeks. Episodes lasting longer than three months are not considered acute.
Addiction Psychological, emotional, or physical dependence on the effects of a drug.
Adjustments A form of chiropractic technique involving the application of gentle, yet firm, pressure to a bone. Adjustments employ a high velocity, low amplitude thrust. The goal of any adjustment is to restore the bone to its natural, or original, position.
Adrenal glands Small glands located on the kidneys that produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline A hormone that stimulates metabolism, increases alertness and increases blood pressure.
Aerobic Exercises These kinds of exercises generally involve large muscle groups and foster a strong and healthy heart and lung function.
Alternative Medicine The use of various non-drug, non-surgical related therapies. Using natural means of treatment.
Amino acid The basic unit from which proteins are made. There are two classes of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be manufactured by the body and must be attained from the diet. Non-essential amino acids are those that the body can synthesize from other amino acids.
Anabolism The metabolic process of building new tissue. Typically used in relation to building muscle, ligaments and tendons.
Analgesics Medicines that are used to relieve pain – aspirin is an example.
Anesthesiologist A physician who specializes in giving drugs or other agents that block, prevent, or relieve pain.
Ankylosing Spondylitis A chronic, progressive, rheumatic disease of the spine that causes calcification of the spinal ligaments, resulting in a loss of movement.
Annulus fibrosis The tough outer layer of the intervertebral disc. Cartilage-like material formed in a series of rings surrounding the nucleus pulposus (soft center) of a disc.
Applied kinesiology An unscientific method of testing muscle strength to detect the presence of disease, vitamin deficiency, and other problems
Arthritis Inflammation of a joint; most arthritis is caused by degenerative changes related to aging. Arthritis affects not only joints but also connective tissue throughout the body can be involved, as well.
Atlas Topmost vertebra of the neck
Autonomic nervous system The part of the nervous system that is responsible for controlling the involuntary functions in the body, such as digestion, metabolism, blood pressure, etc.
Back Extension Backward bending of the spine.
Back Flexion Forward bending of the spine.
Bariatric surgery Surgery on the stomach and/or intestines to help the patient with extreme obesity lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a last-resort weight-loss method used for people who have a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 40.
Basal energy expenditure (BEE) Also known as the basal metabolic rate.; The number of calories that your body needs for basic processes such as digestion, breathing, brain function, etc.
Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) A way to estimate the amount of body weight that is fat and nonfat. Nonfat weight comes from bone, muscle, body water, organs, and other body tissues. BIA works by measuring how difficult it is for a harmless electrical current to move through the body. The more fat a person has, the harder it is for electricity to flow through the body. The less fat a person has, the easier it is for electricity to flow through the body. By measuring the flow of electricity, one can estimate body fat percent.
Body composition score (BCS) A measure that combines body weight, percentage of body fat, waist circumference and hip circumference into one score. The BCS is a more accurate measure of weight loss progress than simply measuring body weight.
Body mass index (BMI) A measure of body weight relative to height. BMI can be used to determine if people are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 up to 25 refers to a healthy weight, a BMI of 25 up to 30 refers to overweight and a BMI of 30 or higher refers to obese.
Bodywork A general term that relates to a wide variety of hands-on therapies, such as massage and some movement therapies.
Bulging Disc The annulus portion of the lumbar disc weakens causing the nucleus to press against it resulting in the annulus pinching or pressing against a nerve causing pain.
Bursitis A condition in which the bursa, or fluid filled sacks that cushion joints, become swollen.
Calorie A unit of energy in food. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Proteins have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
Carbohydrate A major source of energy in the diet. There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, while complex carbohydrates include both starches and fiber. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. They are found naturally in foods such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and milk and dairy products. Foods such as sugar cereals, soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, and candy are very rich in sugars.
Cardiovascular system The system in your body responsible for distributing blood throughout the body. The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, arteries, capillaries and veins.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome A progressive and sometimes painful joint disorder caused by a compression of the median nerve of your hand. The compression causes swelling, which exerts pressure on the nerves.
Cartilage A connective tissue that lines the ends of bones and most joints. It lines the facet joints of the spine.
Catabolism The metabolic process of breaking down tissues. Typically refers to the breakdown of muscle, bone, ligaments and tendons.
Cauda equina A region at the lower end of the spinal column in which nerve roots branch out in a fashion that resembles a horse’s tail.
Cavitation Pop that occurs in a spinal joint when vertebral surfaces (facets) are separated to create a vacuum that pulls in nitrogen gas
Cervical Spine The upper portion of your spine; also called the neck.
Cervical vertebrae There are seven vertebrae in the cervical or neck area of the spine
Chinese Medicine The general term to describe the numerous techniques utilized in China for many thousands of years to heal bodily ailments. These may include massage, herbs, acupuncture and Qi Gong.
Chiropractic Comes from the Greek words, “chiro,” meaning hand, and “practic,” meaning practice, or treatment. Chiropractic is a form of health care that focuses primarily on restoring normal position, motion and function in the body’s structures; especially the spine.
Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP) Method of chiropractic analysis and treatment in which spinal corrections are based on theoretical calculations related to posture and spinal curvature. CBP is based on theoretical calculations related to posture and spinal curvature. This technique advocates adjustments, traction, and exercises intended to develop “normal” neck and low-back curvature.
Chiropractor Also known as a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.), diagnoses and treats a broad range of physical conditions in patients with muscular, nervous, and skeletal problems, especially the spine.
Cholesterol A fat-like substance that is made by the body and is found naturally in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Foods high in cholesterol include liver and organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy fats. Cholesterol is carried in the blood. When cholesterol levels are too high, some of the cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. Over time, the deposits can build up causing the blood vessels to narrow and blood flow to decrease. The cholesterol in food, like saturated fat, tends to raise blood cholesterol, which increases the risk for heart disease. Total blood cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dl are considered high. Levels between 200-239 mg/dl are considered borderline high. Levels under 200 mg/dl are considered desirable.
Chronic back pain Back pain episode that lasts more than three months
Chronic Pain Pain that has lasted for more than three months generally having significant psychological and emotional affects and limiting a person’s ability to fully function.
Coccyx The small bone at the lower tip of the spine. Also called the tailbone, a triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the lumbar area.
Cognitive Restructuring A therapy whose emphasis is on learning to recognize and then change, or restructure thought processes, reframing thoughts in less stressful terms. Learning to make molehills out of mountains.
Complementary Medicine The use of various non-drug, non-surgical related therapies. Using natural means of treatment.
Compressed Nerve Material from a bulging or Herniated disk pushes against a nerve in the spinal cord causing severe pain.
Computed Tomography (CT) scan A sophisticated x-ray using a computer to produce a detailed cross-sectional three-dimensional picture of the bone and discs.
Cordotomy Surgery to cut some of the fibers of the spinal cord; used to relieve pain.
Cortisol A hormone that is released from the adrenal glands in response to stress that facilitates fat storage and has a catabolic affect on muscle and connective tissue.
Cranio-Sacral Therapy A manual therapy focusing on manipulation of the bones in the skull and sacrum.
Cyclooxygenase An enzyme that comes in two forms, I and II. Type I maintains body functions. Type II is associated with the development of inflammation. Aspirin inhibits I and II. COX-2 drugs inhibit Type II only.
D.C. Abbreviation for “doctor of chiropractic".
Degenerative Arthritis The wearing away of cartilage that protects and cushions joints including those in the spine, hands and feet (see Osteoarthritis).
Degenerative Disc Disease A general term applied to degeneration of the lumbar spinal discs which serve as cushions between the spinal vertebrae, resulting in a narrowing of the disc space.
Diabetes Mellitus A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use blood glucose (sugar). Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone in the body that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body does not respond to the insulin that is made.
Diet What a person eats and drinks. Any type of eating plan.
Disc Annulus The outer lining of a disk (see Annulus Fibrosis).
Disc Nucleus The inner core of a disk (see Nucleus Pulposus).
Discectomy Surgical removal of part or the entire herniated intervertebral disc.
Dynamic thrust Chiropractic adjustment delivered suddenly and forcefully to move vertebrae, often resulting in a popping sound
Electrical nerve stimulation A type of physical therapy treatment that utilizes various frequencies and wave forms of electrical current, which have therapeutic effects on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.
Electromyography (EMG) Procedure that tests nerves and muscles providing information to help determine if surgery may be required.
Endorphins Chemical messengers released by the body during vigorous exercise that stimulate the brain to feel good, happy and relaxed.
Energy expenditure The amount of energy, measured in calories, that a person uses. Calories are used by people to breathe, circulate blood, digest food, and be physically active.
Epidural Injection Into the spinal column but outside of the spinal cord.
Exercise Exercise is physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and body composition.
Exercise Therapy A form of chiropractic treatment used to help manage pain, rehabilitate damaged soft tissues, such as muscles, ligament, and tendons, and restore normal range of motion and function.
Extensor Muscles Muscles that cause your joints to straighten, such as the back and gluteus muscles that help keep your back straight.
Facet Joint Syndrome Pain resulting from degeneration, wear, pressure exerted on and inflammation of the facet joints, which are the joints at the back of each vertebrae linking the vertebrae together.
Facet joints The joints above and below each intervertebral disc, allowing the spine to bend. The paired joints located in the posterior portion of the vertebral bodies connecting the spine. These joints are part of the stabilizing mechanism for the spine.
Fascia A band of connective tissue separating muscles and organs in the body.
Fat A major source of energy in the diet. All food fats have 9 calories per gram. Fat helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. Some kinds of fats, especially saturated fats, [see definition] may cause blood cholesterol to increase and increase the risk for heart disease. Other fats, such as unsaturated fats do not increase blood cholesterol. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids.
Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain in muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.
Fibrositis Pain arising from damaged tendons or muscles.
Flexor Muscles The muscles that cause your joints to bend, such as your biceps muscle on the front of your upper arm or your abdominal muscles.
Foraminal Stenosis Narrowing of a vertebral opening.
Foraminal Stenosis Narrowing of a vertebral opening.
Fusion In regard to the spine, a surgical procedure to unite two or more vertebrae with bone graft with or without metal supports resulting in immobilization of that portion.
Gestational diabetes A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of her pregnancy, a woman may have glucose (sugar) in her blood at a higher than normal level. In about 95 percent of cases, blood sugar returns to normal after the pregnancy is over. Women who develop gestational diabetes, however, are at risk for developing Type II diabetes later in life.
Ghrelin A hormone released from the stomach and the small intestine that creates the sensation of hunger.
Glucagon A hormone released from the pancreas that elevates blood sugar by stimulating the release of glucose stores in the liver and muscle.
Glucose A building block for most carbohydrates. Digestion causes carbohydrates to break down into glucose. After digestion, glucose is carried in the blood and goes to body cells where it is used for energy or stored.
Glycemic index A measure of a food’s ability to raise the body’s blood glucose level. Foods that have a low glycemic index do not raise blood glucose levels to nearly the extent of high glycemic index foods.
Golfer’s Elbow A type of elbow pain that originates near the inside part of the bony protrusion. This type of pain is also caused by a tear or rupture in the tendon supporting the elbow bone.
Gonstead technique System of correcting pelvic and sacral “subluxations” to correct secondary subluxations elsewhere in the spine. The alleged problem areas are located by motion palpation and skin-temperature instrument measurement and “confirmed” with full-spine x-ray examination.
Healthy Weight As compared to overweight or obese, a body weight that is less likely to be linked with any weight-related health problems such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or others. A person with a body fat percentage between 18% – 22% (depending on age) are considered to be at a healthy weight.
Heat Therapy A form of therapy often used in patients who have chronic, or long-lasting pain. Heat therapy can involve many kinds of methods, from simple heating pads, wraps, and warm gel packs, to sophisticated techniques such as therapeutic ultrasound. While ice therapy is used to reduce swelling, heat therapy is used to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Both kinds of therapy help reduce pain.
Herniated Disc A disc that protrudes from its normal position between two vertebrae, due to an injury to the annulus; frequently associated with the nucleus of the disc oozing out of the center of the disk.
High blood pressure See Hypertension.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called “good” cholesterol. High HDL lowers the risk of heart disease. An HDL of 60 mg/dl or greater is considered high and is protective against heart disease. An HDL less than 40 mg/dl is considered low and increases the risk for developing heart disease.
Hip circumference A measurement of the hips, including the widest portion of the buttocks, used in conjunction with the waist circumference, body weight and percent body fat to calculate the body composition score.
Hypertension A resting blood pressure that is greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg. Hypertension is associated with an increasee risk of heart disease and stroke.
Hypothalamus A small area of the brain that is a main control center for regulating eating and sleeping behavior in humans. It has binding sites for several hormones including ghrelin and leptin.
Ice Massage A form of therapy involving the application of ice to treat many kinds of injuries, including those associated with back or neck pain. Ice causes the veins in the affected tissue area to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood while acting as kind of anesthetic to numb the pain. But when the ice is removed, the veins compensate by opening large, allowing a large volume of blood to rush to the affected area. The blood brings with it important chemicals that aid in the healing process.
Ideal body weight The weight that your body would be if you had a 20% body fat. Calculated by multiplying your current lean body mass by 1.2.
Imagery A method of pain relief that uses mental images produced by memory or imagination.
Inflammation A pathologic process associated with redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. This process destroys tissues but is also associated with the repair and healing of body structures.
Instrument Adjustment A form of chiropractic adjustment using a spring-loaded device called an Activator.
Insulin A hormone in the body that helps move glucose from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Insulin controls blood sugar levels.
Interferential Current (IFC) A form of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy in which high-frequency electrical impulses are introduced deep into the tissues near the center of the pain.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome A condition that is characterized by a combination of abdominal pain and altered bowel function.
Kinesiology The study of muscles and their relation to movement and pain relief.
Kyphosis Normal curve of the thoracic spine. Also describes an excess curvature of the thoracic spine called a “dowager’s hump.” This is a common occurrence in people with osteoporosis.
Laminectomy A surgical procedure that removes a portion of the plate that serves as the back of the spinal canal. This decompression procedure is performed for treatment of herniated intervertebral discs and spinal stenosis.
Leptin A hormone produced by the small intestine that signals the brain to stop eating. People who are overweight will often have a diminished leptin response in the brain.
Ligament Strong, dense bands made of connective tissue that stabilize a joint, connecting bone to bone across the joint.
Lipoprotein Compounds of protein that carry fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol, in the blood.
Local anesthetics Drugs that block nerve conduction in the region where it is applied.
Locked spinal joint Sudden binding that occurs when two joint surfaces are shifted out of their normal alignment by an awkward movement that triggers muscle spasm. The result may also be called an “acute locked back."
Lordosis The curve in the cervical and lumbar spine. An abnormal accentuated arch in the lower back swayback.
Low back pain Pain at the base of the spine that can be caused by several factors.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) A form of cholesterol that cir