Orthopedic Dictionary

For your convenience please see below an Orthopedic dictionary listing many important definitions.

—– A —–

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) – One of the most commonly injured ligaments which stabilizes the knee joint. The cruciate ligaments are cross-shaped within the knee joint. The posterior cruciate is deeper (more posterior) within the joint and not as commonly injured as the anterior cruciate.

Arthritis – An inflammatory condition that affects joints. (e.g., rheumatism or gout).

Arthrocentesis -A procedure where by a needle is introduced into a joint space for the purpose of removing joint fluid. This procedure can also be therapeutic if an anesthetic or corticosteroid medication is injected into the joint during the procedure.

Arthrodesis – The surgical immobilization of a joint (joint fusion).

Arthropathy – Any disease that affects joints.

Arthroplasty, replacement – Partial or total replacement of a joint with artificial component.

Arthroscopic knee repair – A fiberoptic procedure, used in the surgical repair of any of several knee ligaments including the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or of the knee cartilages (meniscus).

Arthroscopy – Looking inside the joint with a small-lighted telescope.

Arthrotomy – A surgical incision into a joint.

Articular Cartilage – Hyaline cartilage, a thin layer of tissue covering the articular surfaces of bones in joints.

Articulation – Movement of a joint.

Aseptic necrosis – Condition in which poor blood supply to an area of bone leads to bone death. Also called avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis.

Aspiration -Removal of fluid from a hip or knee joint. This fluid is then sent to a laboratory for diagnostic studies.

Autodonated blood- Is blood donated by you and later given back to you.

Autologus – The use of your own bone or blood during a surgical procedure.

Avascular – Without blood supply.

Avascular Necrosis (AVN) – See osteonecrosis

—– B —–

Back pain, low – Symptoms in the low back can relate to the bony portion of the spine, to discs between the vertebrae, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, or even internal organs, the pelvis and abdomen. The low back, or lumbar area, functions in structural support, movement and protection of certain body tissue.

Baker cyst – A cyst or pouch that occurs behind the knee, in the synovial lining of the knee. Synovial fluid escapes from the knee joint and into the cyst in people who suffer from degenerative and other joint disease. Aspiration of the cyst is therapeutic only temporarily since recurrence is common. Larger cysts can be removed surgically.

Benign – Something that does not metastasize. Treatment or removal is curative.

B.I.D. – Medication given twice a day.

Biopsy – Procedure that involves obtaining a tissue specimen for microscopic analysis to establish a precise diagnosis. Biopsies can be accomplished with a biopsy needle (passed through the skin into the organ in question) or by surgical incision.

Blood Transfusion – Blood given to a patient due to massive blood loss, usually during/after surgery, trauma and often to cancer patients. Most often doses by a pint at a time and given intravenously.

Bone banks – Centers for acquiring, characterizing and storing bones or bone tissue for future use.

Bone cements – (polymethylmethacrylate or PMMA) – used to fix prosthetic devices to bones and to cement bone to fill pathologic fracture defects.

Bone graft – May be used to support a joint after core decompression. Bone grafting in surgery transplants healthy bone from one part of the patient, such as the leg, to the diseased area.

Bone marrow – The soft, spongy tissue found in the center of most large bones that produces cellular components of blood: white cells, red cells and platelets (haemopoiesis). It is also the radiation sensitive tissue of the body.

Bone – The hard, calcified tissue of the skeleton of vertebrae animals.

Bulging Disk – A condition that results in the abnormal protrusion (bulging) of a vertebral disk from its normal position. The displaced disk may exert force on a nearby nerve root causing the typical neurological symptoms of radiating pain (to an extremity), numbness, tingling and weakness. Recurrent episodes of severe back pain are common.

Bursa – A bursa (bursae, plural for bursa) is a closed fluid-filled sac that functions as a gliding surface to reduce friction between tissues of the body.

Bursectomy – Surgical drainage and removal of an infected bursa.

—– C —–

Cartilage – Connective tissue containing collagen type II and large amounts of proteoglycan, particularly chondroitin sulfate. Cartilage is more flexible and compressible than bone; it coats the articular surfaces (bone ends).

Cervical – Pertaining to the neck or to the neck of any organ or structure.

Cervical Spine – Neck area of the spine.

Chondral – Articular cartilage.

Chondromalacia – The progressive erosion of cartilage, common in the knee joint where it is known as chondromalacia patella.

Chondrocyte – Cartilage cell.

Clinical Outcomes – Results; pertaining to medical testing or medical procedure.

Coccydynia – Pain in the coccyx (tailbone).

Collateral ligaments – A number of ligaments on either side of a joint having a hinge like movement. They occur at the elbow, knee, wrist, hands and feet.

Colles fracture – A common fracture of the wrist joint due to a fall on an outstretched hand. The fracture is also referred to as a silver fork deformity.

Community donated blood – Blood that is collected from the community, tested and screened for infectious diseases and given to patients that need a blood transfusion.

Compartment Syndrome – Build up of pressure in muscles, secondary to injury.

Compression Fracture – A spinal fracture, more specifically of the vertebral body. Compression fractures result in a loss of height of the vertebral body on X-ray. May occur in any region of the spine. Commonly in post-menopausal women who are subject to osteoporosis.

Contracture – A condition of fixed high resistance to passive stretch of a muscle, resulting from fibrosis of the tissues supporting the muscles of the joints or from disorders of the muscle fibers.

Contusion – A bruise, an injury of a part without a break to the skin.

Core Decompression – This surgical procedure removes the inner layer of the bone, which reduces pressure within the bone, increases blood flow to the bone, and allows more vessels to form.

Corticosteroid – Any of the steroids elaborated by the adrenal cortex in response to the release of corticopin by the pituitary gland, to any of the synthetic equivalents of the steroids. It has an inflammatory agent and suppresses the immune response.

Cramp – A painful, involuntary spasmodic contraction.

Cruciate – A cross or  shape. There are two cruciate ligaments in the human knee.

Custom Prosthesis – A hip or knee joint designed to be used by an individual patient.

—– D —–

D.O. – Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.

Debridement – A term of French origin for the removal of dead, infected or foreign material in a wound.

Deep Venous Thrombosis – A blood clot that forms in a vein resulting in obstruction of venous flow. Most common in the lower extremities.

Degenerative Joint Disease – A form of arthritis that results in the destruction of the articular cartilage that line the joints. Seen predominantly in the larger weightbearing joints of the hip, knees and spine, can be seen in the small joints of the hands.

Disc – Material between spinal vertebrae that provide a cushion-like support against shock.

Dislocate – To put out of place, out of joint or out of position.

Dorsiflexion – To bend the toes toward the head.

—– E —–

Ecchymosis – Internal bruising or bleeding which causes our skin to turn black and blue.

ECM – Extra-cellular matrix (the bulk of articular cartilage).

Edema – Swelling of tissues as a result of disease or injury.

Effusion – Swelling

Etiology – Cause of a disease.

Extend – To straighten.

Extension – The movement by which the two elements of any jointed part is drawn away from each other.

—– F —–

Femur – The largest bone in the body, extending from the hip to the knee (thigh bone).

Fixation – The act or operation of holding, suturing or fastening in a fixed position. The condition of being held in a fixed position.

Flex – To bend.

Fracture – A break or rupture in the bone.

—– G —–

Glenoid – The portion of the scapula (shoulder blade) that forms the cup segment of the shoulder joint.

—– H —–

Haemathrosis – Bleeding into the knee joint.

Hemoglobin – The oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells, which are the cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body.

Hemorrhage – To bleed.

Herniate – To protrude through an abnormal body opening (outside normal margins).

Hip Arthroplasty – Surgery to replace all or part of the hip joint with an artificial device that establishes normal hip joint motion. Indicated in cases of severe intractable degenerative arthrosis.

Hip Fracture – A fracture of the hip commonly occurs in the neck of the femur (thigh bone). The elderly and those who suffer from osteoporosis are at greatest risk.

Homologous – The use of blood or bone obtained from a donor bank.

Hybrid Prosthesis – A prosthesis where one component is cemented and the other is un-cemented.

Hypercoagulable – State describing abnormally thick blood.

Hypertrophy – Tissue or organ enlargement.

—– I —–

Iron – Is used to build up the red blood cells in some anemic patients.

Irrigate – To wash out.

Intravenous – Within a vein or veins.

—– J —–

Joint – Is formed by the ends of two or more bones which are connected by thick tissues.

—– K —–

Knee Arthroplasty – Surgery involving the replacement of the knee joint with artificial components, which re-establishes normal joint function. Indicated in cases of knee fracture or degenerative arthritis (DJD) unresponsive to medical therapy.

Knee Sprain – Any injury to the different ligaments, which stabilize the knee joint. Knee sprains are characterized by knee pain, swelling and tenderness with range of motion. Completely torn ligaments may require surgical repair to re-establish knee joint stability.

—– L —–

Lateral – The outside portion of our body parts (away from). (Your ear is lateral to your nose).

Lateral Collateral Ligament – Provides stability to the outer (lateral) part of the knee.

Laxity – Loose.

Ligament – Fibrous tissue that attaches bone to bone.

Loosening – A mode of failure resulting from implant movement or migration in the bone or cement.

—– M —–

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – A study of the soft tissues and structures inside the knee or other joint or body part. Imaging has greatly improved the ability of a physician to pinpoint a correct and accurate diagnosis.

Malignant – Tending to become progressively worse and to result in death. Having the properties of multiplying, invasion, or metastasis, said of tumors.

Medial – Toward the inside or center of the body. (Your big toe is medial to your small toe.)

Medial Collateral Ligament – A ligament connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone on the side of your knee.

Medial Collateral Sprain – MCL injuries are classified as grades I-III. Grade I injuries appear normal in an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), but there is subcutaneous tissue swelling (edema). Grade III injuries indicate a complete disruption of the ligament with associated soft tissue swelling (edema), and hemorrhage.

Meniscus – A  shaped cartilage in the knee which provides a stabilization system for the knee and a measure of shock absorption.

Microfracture – Articular cartilage repair technique.

Mosaicplasty – Articular cartilage repair technique utilizing multiple small autologous osteochondral plugs.

Muscle – Body tissues which consist of cells that contract when lengthened or straightened.

Myositis – Inflammation of the muscle.

—– N —–

Nerve – One or more fibers or bundles of fibers which form a part of a system in the body that conveys impulses of sensation, motion, etc., between the spinal cord or brain and other body parts.

Nerve Root – Where a group of nerves exit from the spinal canal.

NSAID – An acronym to describe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including aspirin and ibuprofen. Several of these drugs are available over the counter and others require a physician’s prescription.

—– O —–

Orthopedic (orthopaedic) Surgery – The branch of medicine, which studies and treats disorders of muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments and other related soft tissue.

Ossification – The formation of bone, the transformation of fibrous tissue or of cartilage into bony substance.

Osteoarthritis – Is a joint disease that affects mostly the cartilage.

Osteoarthropathy – A condition that describes the broadening or thickening of the tips of the fingers (and toe). Often this finding on physical examination can be quite subtle and easily overlooked. Clubbing may be seen in a wide variety of cardiovascular conditions most of them associated with a decrease in blood oxygen.

Osteoarticular – Pertaining to or affecting bones and joints.

Osteochondral – Bone and cartilage

Osteonecrosis – Is a generic term used to describe the death of the cellular elements of bone. It can be associated with high dose steroid use, pregnancy, trauma, alcohol abuse, people who have cortisone-producing tumors, lupus, pancreatitis, decompression sickness, Gaucher’s diseases, sickle-cell anemia, and several other blood related disorders, or not have any predisposing factor or condition (idiopathic). Symptoms are abrupt onset of pain initially only with weight bearing and later during non-weight bearing and even while at rest. In some patients, pain becomes unbearable as the disease progresses, whereas in others, it does not.

Osteophytes – Abnormal projections of bone.

Osteoporosis – Reduction in bone mass, leading to fractures after minimal injury.

Osteotomy – Surgical cutting of a bone to change the alignment or alter the weight-bearing stresses. Typically reserved for younger, more active, healthy patients with single compartment arthritis of the knee.

—– P —–

Paget’s Disease – A bone disease that often affects the hip. Bone formation is sped up, causing the density and shape of the bone to change.

Palpate – To touch, or feel.

Patella -Also known as the kneecap. The patella is 2 to 3 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches long. It sits over the other bones at the front of the knee joint and slides when the leg moves. It protects the knee and gives leverage to muscles.

Patella Alta – High riding kneecap.

Patella Infera (or Baja) – Low-riding kneecap.

Patellofemoral Joint (PFJ) – Joint between the patella and femoral trochlea.

Pelvis – The lower portion of the trunk of the body, bounded anteriorly and laterally by two pelvic bones and posteriorly by the sacrum and coccyx.

Periostitis – Inflammation of the fibrous covering (outer layer) of a bone.

Physical Therapy – The treatment of disease or injury through physical or mechanical means including, but not limited to: ice, heat, massage, ultrasound and exercise.

Pivot – To turn.

Posterior – Behind

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) – Located in the center of the knee, it limits backward movement of the tibia.

Pronate – To turn, facing downward.

Prosthesis – An artificial joint.

Pulmonary Embolism – A blood clot in the leg that travels to lung. This is potentially a life-threatening situation; consult your physician immediately if you experience shortness of breath or chest pain.

—– Q —–

Q.D. – Medication given once a day.

Q.I.D. – Medication given four times a day.

Quadriplegia – Paralysis of all four limbs.

—– R —–

Radiate – That which travels. The pain radiates from my neck to my elbow.

Retinaculum – Connective tissue similar to a ligament, but more expansive  e.g. around the kneecaps.

Retropatellar – Behind the kneecap. (refers to articulating surface)

Revision hip surgery – A total hip replacement for a previously failed implant.

Revision knee surgery – A total knee replacement for a previously failed implant.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Chronic inflammatory disease with destruction of joints. Considered by some to be an autoimmune disorder in which immune complexes formed in joints excite an inflammatory response towards own tissues.

Runners Condition – A condition where the kneecap (patella) rubs on the surface of the femur rather than following a normal tracking over the knee joint. This condition is due to stress or overuse (for example runners). Symptoms include knee pain, just under the kneecap after running progressing to knee pain at rest. Treatment includes rest and stretching exercises for the quadriceps and hamstring muscles.

—– S —–

Strain – To wear out beyond a normal limit, often causing micro or tiny tears.

Subluxation – To partially dislocate.

Supinate – To turn, facing upward. (When you collect change at the tollbooth, you supinate your palm.)

Surgery – The branch of medicine where physical deformity or disease is treated by an operative procedure.

Suture – Usually a synthetic based line that is minimally reactive in biological tissue. Commonly used are nylon, Prolene and gut. Absorbable suture will dissolve over time (Vicryl and chromic).

Syndrome – A set of symptoms that characterize a disorder or disease.

Synovial Membrane – A thin tissue that lines the capsule surrounding the joint.

Synovitis – Inflammation of a synovial membrane. It is usually painful, particularly on motion and is characterized by a fluctuating swelling due to effusion within a synovial sac.

—– T —–

Tendinitis (tendonitis) – An inflammation (swelling) of the tendon.

Tendon – Fibrous tissue, which connects muscle to bone.

Tibia – The shin bone or larger bone of the lower leg.

Total Joint Replacement – An arthritic or damaged joint is removed or replaced with an artificial joint called a prosthesis.

—– U —–

Uniarticular – Pertaining to a single joint.

Unicompartmental knee replacement – Similar to total knee replacement, performed only on one part of the knee.

Unilateral – Affecting one side.

—– V —–

Valgus – An abnormal position in which part of a limb is twisted outward or away from the midline. Often referred to as knocked knees.

Varus – An abnormal position in which part of a limb is twisted inward, toward the midline (bowed legs).

Vasculitis – Inflammation of the blood vessel walls.

Vastus Medialis Obliquus (VMO) – The inner part of the quadriceps muscle.

—– W —–

Wear – The loss of material from solid surfaces due to mechanical abrasion.

Weightbearing – Ability to tolerate carrying your weight on your feet while walking.

—– X —–

—– Y —–

—– Z —–