Below is a glossary of common 'medical terms' used in orthopaedics.
Movement away from the midline of the body
A mass containing pus.
The socket of the hip joint
Inflammation around the Achilles tendon
The shelf of bone just above the shoulder joint
Movement towards the midline of the body
an acutely stiff shoulder joint due to tightening of the capsule AKA 'frozen shoulder'
transpanted human bone
cessation of periods (common in overtraining sportswomen)
a severe allergic reaction causing a drop in blood pressure and difficulty in breathing
an inflammatory disorder that affects the back, pelvis and major joints characterized by pain and severe stiffness
a severe loss of joint movement often due to spontaneous fusion of the joint
the edge of the intervertebral disc between the spinal vertebrae
towards the front of the body
Anterior cruciate ligament
one of the main stabilizing ligaments in the knee
the surgical fusion of a joint.
a special radiographic technique where a contrast medium is injected into a joint to outline the joint surface more clearly. It may refer to x-ray, CT or MRI
replacement of a joint. Excision arthroplasty implies the joint has been removed to allow a scar tissue joint to form. Hemiarthroplastly means only one half of the joint has been replaced
an operation to view the inner surface of a joint via a small fibreoptic tube and miniature video camera
the smooth, firm surface that covers the ends of bones at a joint
removing fluid from a joint with a needle (also known as athrocentesis)
a fungal infection of the toe web spaces.
Where the bone is not uniting together, and there is no evidence of healing bone.
tissue from the patient's own body (eg bone graft from one part of the body such as the hip to another area)
a form of complex regional pain syndrome where changes in colour and temperature of the skin pain may be the most significant feature rather than pain.
Autonomic nervous system
The system of nerves that controls things that happen unconsciously in the body such as blood flow, heart rate etc. Also can control the level at which the triggering of nerves is perceived as pain.
a condition in which cells die as a result of inadequate blood supply, (also known as osteonecrosis)
One of the three planes through the body akin to a cross section
a nerve injury where the nerve is damaged, but not severed
a shoulder injury where the tough firous tissue at the front of the shoulder joint gets torn off in dislocation.
inflammation of the biceps tendon at the top of the shoulder
an assessment of physical forces and how they are transmitted in the body
A normal condition where part of the patella may be separated and appear as a fracture
Drugs that affect bone metabolism used in the treatment of a variety of bone diseases and to treat some forms of osteoporosis.
A scan to assess to assess for osteoporosis using xrays (also known as a DEXA scan)
The maturing and change of shape of a bone, usually after a fracture
A scan that involves injection of a weakly radioactive marker to show areas of high metabolic activity in bone. Also known as bone scintigraphy
A finger deformity due to rupture of one of the tendons
A tear along the meniscal cartilage whereby the torn fragment flips into the joint like the handle of a bucket
A painful soft tissue lump over the big toe joint, usually over a bony deformity (hallux valgus)
A sac containing a thin film of fluid that allows tissues to glide across each other. Can get inflamed and swollen (bursitis)
Inflammation of a bursa
A compression fracture of a vertebra causing posterior displacement of the fragments into the spinal canal
a wedge shaped piece of bone separated at a fracture site
Cafe au lait spots
Pale brown pigmented skin marks
Heel bone. Also known as the os calcis.
Healing bone which is incompletely calcified
Small, thin-walled blood vessels that provide the nutrition to cells
The tough fibrous surrounding of a joint
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Compression of the Median nerve at the wrist that is characterized by pain, numbness, and weakness in the hand.
Carrying angle of the elbow
The angle formed by the long axis of the humerus and the ulna bone in the forearm
A type of body tissue characterized by collagen of various types. Articular cartilage forms the smooth lining of joints, Fibrocartilage is similar to scar tissue. The 'knee cartilage' is a lay term for the medial or lateral meniscus.
Excessive height of the arch of the foot
Inflammation of soft tissues or skin tissue, due to infection
an injury involving the articular cartilage that lines a joint
The cells that form cartilage
The biologically active cells in cartilage.
Softening of the articular surface that can result in pain.
A cancer of cartilage cells
A pain in the calf that gets worse with activity, usually either due to poor circulation (vascular claudication) or pinching of the nerves from spinal stenosis (spinal claudication)
Deformity of the toe where the tip comes off the ground
A fracture that has not penetrated the skin
Straightening a bone without opening the skin
A strong structural protein found in hyaline cartilage, bone, tendon and ligaments
A fracture of the distal end of the radius (wrist) where the bone is crushed into itself, causing the distal part to tilt dorsally and rotate to the radial side
broken into more than one piece (also multi-fragmentary)
Common peroneal nerve
One of the nerves in the lower leg that supplies the lateral (peroneal) muscles
increased pressure in the muscular compartments (usually of the lower leg) resulting in severe pain. It can either be acute after injury or chronic in athletes
the historic term for an open fracture (qv)
The expanded end of a bone at the joint
A restriction of movement of a joint due to shortening of the muscles around it
An injury to soft tissue without a break in the skin such as a bruise
One of the three planes through the body akin to a frontal view
Dense bone that forms the tubular surface of the long bones
Similar to an osteotomy, but with an attempt to keep the central part of the bone intact. Usually performed for the Ilizarov technique of bone lengthening
A deformity of the hip in which the ball of the hip joint is enlarged.
crunching feeling from roughened surfaces of a joint, or bones moving relative to one another
Scraping the inner surface of a cavity with a surgical instrument called a curette
Deep venous thrombosis (DVT)
A blood clot in the veins (usually of the calf). It is commonly caused by immobility and surgery
Stripping of a layer of skin and its subcutaneous fat from the underlying fascia resulting in the severence of its blood supply
A delay in fracture healing beyond what is normally expected
Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
Muscle pain that follows unaccustomed vigorous exercise and that can last several days despite rest.
Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry A diagnostic imaging technology that uses two different energies of x-rays to detect osteoporosis
Relating to the shaft of a long bone.
The shaft of a long bone.
Separation of the tibia and fibula at the ankle
A congenital deformity in which the lateral meniscus is not the normal crescent shape but instead is a circular disc
Complete separation of the articular surfaces of a joint
Further away from the centre of the body
The action of stretching a bone at a corticotomy to lengthen it
Relating to the back of the body and hand or top of the foot
Not formed properly during growth (notably the hip joint in developmental dysplasia, DDH)
Specific exercises in which the muscle lengthens despite resisting a force, such as lowering a weight in a controlled manner
Localized bruising in the skin
swelling of a joint with fluid
A swelling due to fluid within a joint
The end of a growing bone that is on the side of the joint compared to the growth plate.
Plantar flexed position of the foot at the ankle joint
Redness of the skin
A specific type of bone cancer
Bony spur or projecting growth
Movement of a joint towards the dorsum (as opposed to flexion)
A muscle that causes extension of a joint
The use of an external frame scaffold to support bone and joints, attached by means of pins and wires into or through the bones. May be completely around a limb (circular frame) on one side (unilateral frame) or mixtures.
outward rotation of a limb
Sheets of tough fibrous connective tissue that divide the limbs into layers and compartments
Surgical incision of the fascia, usually to relieve the pressure of compartment syndrome
Fat embolism syndrome
When fat globules get into the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism as well as passing through the lungs to cause micro-emboli in the brain and other organs.
A fracture that occurs when the bone is subjected to frequent, repeated stresses. Common in marathon runners and army recruits.
Proximal end of the femur that forms the ball of the hip joint
The bone connecting the head to the shaft of the femur
The nerve that supplies power to the quadriceps muscles and feeling to the overlying skin
Tough scar tissue. Can be used as a substitute joint lining if the hyaline (articular) cartilage is lost, but is not of the same quality.
the smaller of the two bones in the lower leg. It lies to the outer side and slightly behind the tibia and forms the outer part of the ankle joint by an expansion at the lower end called the lateral malleolus.
on the outer side of the calf
Movement of a limb towards the front
A muscle that flexes a joint
The use of an image intensifier x-ray machine to take continual images
A gap or hole either through or between bones
any broken bone from a hairline crack to something totally shattered
A condition that causes avascular necrosis of the second metatarsal head
A condition causing severe stiffness of the shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
Pain that is felt by the patient when there is no anatomical cause
The healing together of two bones at a joint either intentionally (arthrodesis) or as a result of arthritis(ankylosis)
A fracture of the radius with dislocation of the ulna at the wrist
Rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament of the thumb
A soft tissue lump caused by a herniation of the synovial lining of a joint, and as such filled with joint fluid that becomes thick and viscous.
The major muscle of the calf that inserts into the heel via the Achilles tendon
A knock knee type deformity
A bow leg type deformity
The attachment site of the ITB (ileotibial band) on the outer tibia
The shoulder joint between the ball at the head of the humerus and the shallow glenoid part of the scapula
An inflammatory arthritis caused by deposition of urate crystals in a joint
One of the three hamstring muscles to the medial side of the knee
The widened part of the upper end of the femur to which muscles attach. It has an overlying bursa beneath the fascia which may get inflamed (trochanteric bursistis)
A childhood fracture that disrupts only one side of the bone.
swelling of a joint due to bleeding into the joint
bleeding into soft tissues akin to bruising
The big toe
Arthritis of the major joint of the big toe (the metatarsophalangeal joint) causing stiffness and pain
Deformity at the first metatarsophalangeal joint where the toe deviates laterally causing pain and an overlying soft tissue swelling (bunion.)
Deformity of the farthest toe joint (distal interphalangeal joint, DIPJ) that causes the tip of the toe to dig into the ground painfully
The muscles at the back of the thigh that flex the knee. On the medial (inner) side are the gracilis, semimembranosis and semitendonosis. On the outer side are the biceps femoris muscles
Swelling due to blood within a joint.
A soft tissue swelling due to bleeding, a bruise.
Paralysis of one side of the body.
The formation of bone in the soft tissues.
An indentation of the bone of the head of the humerus against the glenoid rim in shoulder dislocation.
A ceramic mineral that is present in bone and can stimulate bone to heal to a surface.
Abnormal flexibility of joints, usually graded by hyperextension of knees and elbows, the ability to touch the forearm with the thumb, bend the little finger back by 90 degrees and touch the floor with the palms.
Where the bones are trying to unite by producing extra bone, but it is not bridging the fracture together
Iliotibial band (ITB)
The sheet of tissue along the side of the thigh to below the knee.
A fracture pattern in which the fragments are squashed into each other.
The attachment of the tendon of a muscle
A symptom where a joint is unstable and will collapse under load
The use of metal screws, plates, nails etc to hold the parts of a fracture together. Often combined as open reduction and internal fixation or ORIF
Inwards rotation of an limb
A soft disc between the vertebral bodies comprising a tough outer skin (annulus fibrosus) with a soft inner part (nucleus pulposus)
Fracture within the capsule of a joint.
A method of internal fixation of the long bones using a metal rod within the hollow centre of the bone. Often additional screws lock through the nail (interlocking intramedullary nail)
A twisting injury to the ankle characterized by the sole of the foot turning inwards, stressing the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle
Inadequate blood supply to an area of the body
Use of a muscle so the speed of contraction is constant
Use of a muscle without it changing length
Use of a muscle such that it contracts and shortens with constant tension
A fracture at the bse of the 5th metatarsal on the outer side of the midfoot involving the joint with the cuboid bone
Pain at the upper end of the patellar tendon where it attaches to the patella, also known as patellar tendonosis
Curvature of the spine such that that is convex posteriorly ie hunched forwards
A test of anterior to posterior laxity of the knee which assesses the cruciate ligaments
Further away from the midline
Inflammation of the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, also known as tennis elbow.
Bony prominence at the end of the fibula that forms the outer aspect of the ankle joint
The outer of the two crescent-shaped fibrocartilages is the knee joint that lie between the femur and the tibia
Washing out of a joint or body cavity
Abnormal slackness in a joint allowing movement in an abnormal direction
A structure running from one bone to another bone to stabilize a joint
The use of complex orthopaedic techniques to try to save a limb that would otherwise be at risk of amputation from the complications of trauma or infection
A fracture-dislocation of the tarsometatarsal joints between the tarsal bones in the midfoot and the metatarsals in the forefoot
Curvature of the spine that is convex anteriorly
Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH)
Injectable anticoagulants to try to prevent, and in some cases treatdeep venous thrombosis (DVT)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
An imaging technique that uses the tiny radiofrequency echoes given off by protons in water when subjected to a moving magnetic field within a stronger field. It gives very good views of soft tissues that otherwise do not show up on xray. The image can be adjusted to show up high water content for example in inflammation and acute soft tissue injuries.
A rupture of the extensor tendon to the tip of the finger such that it cannot be properly straightened. Sometimes a small piece of bone is pulled off with the tendon.
Healing of a fracture in a deformed position
towards the midline of the body
Medial collateral ligament
A ligament that stabilizes the inner (medial) aspect of a joint
Bones in the hand between the wrist and fingers
The widened part of a bone towards the joint
The spread of disease such as cancer from one part of the body to another, usually via the bloodstream
Pain in the forefoot beneath the metatarsal heads
The bones in the front part of the foot between the midfoot and the toes
A fracture of the ulna bone of the forearm with dislocation of the head of the radius at the elbow
A painful swelling of the nerve between the metatarsal heads of the forefoot.
broken into more than one piece (also comminuted)
The formation of bone within muscle, often as a result of trauma.
One of the bones in the top of the foot between the talus and the cuneiform bones
A temporary loss of function of a nerve, usually from pressure
Inflammation or irritation of a nerve
A swelling of a nerve or its surrounding sheath
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
A broad group of painkillers that includes aspirin, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen and others. Implicated in slow bone healing and possible non-union.
Failure of healing of a fracture or an osteotomy.
The shock absorbing central part of the intervertebral disc
Swelling due to retained tissue fluid
The projection at the back of the elbow from the proximal end of the ulna.
a fracture where the bone has come through the skin. Notably serious since germs can get in to the fracture site and cause osteomyelitis
Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF)
An operation that involves opening the skin and soft tissue to fix a fracture under direct vision with metalwork such as plates and screws etc.
The attachment of the more major end of a muscle
Latin name for the heel bone (calcaneus)
Pain at the front of the knee from the tibial tubercle classically in adolescent sportsmen that is usually associated with a local swelling
Inflammation of the pubis symphysis (the junction between the two pelvic bones at the front of the body)
A form of arthritis due to wearing out of the articular surface from repeated trauma
Cells that are responsible for the formation of bone.
similar to the chondral injury (involving the articular cartilage that lines a joint) but that involves a piece of bone beneath it too
Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)
A condition where a localized are of bone beneath the joint surface dies leading to softening and possible separation of the overlying articular cartilage
Cells that are responsible for breaking down bone.
The cells of living bone
A small, benign, but usually painful bone tumor
Reabsorption of bone
Infection of bone
a condition in which cells die as a result of inadequate blood supply, (also known as avascular necrosis)
The death of bone usually because of poor blood supply
Thinning of bone not as severe as osteoporosis
Overgrowth of bone at the edges of the joint in osteoarthritis
Thinning and loss of bone structure leading to weakness of the bone
A rare type of bone cancer
Surgically dividing a bone
The anterior surface of the hand
A sheath of tissue around a tendon
Abnormal sensations such as tingling or 'pins and needles'
An abnormally high patella.
An abnormally low patella due to contracture of the patellar tendon
The tendon between the patella and the tibial tubercle at the front of the knee
Surgical excision of the patella
The joint between the patella and the condyles at the end of the femur.
A fracture caused by a normal load on bone that is abnormally weakened for example by osteoporosis, tumour metastases etc
The use of wires or needles the skin with only small incisions to puncture the skin
The tough sheath of tissue that forms the outer surface of bones
The tendons of the peroneal muscles that run behind the lateal malleolus at the ankle
Flattening of the arch of the foot
The small bones of the fingers and toes
The growth plate. The part of the bone that is still lengthening and has not yet formed bone
Relating to the sole of the foot
Irritation of the fascia on the sole of the foot, classically where it joins to the calcaneus at the heel.
towards the back of the body
A complex group of tendons and ligaments at the outer side of the knee that can cause instability when injured
A dynamic flattening of the foot that occurs during walking and running.
Rotation inwards of the forearm
Position sense of a joint that feeds back information about where the limb is in space to help with balance and stability
A type of nonunion characterized by the formation of a false joint
Quadriceps angle (Q angle)
An angle formed by line of the patellar tendon and the line of pull of the quadriceps muscles
On the side of the forearm or hand on which the radius lies (On the thumb side)
Bony prominence of the distal end of the radius at the wrist
Pain that radiates from a pain source into an adjacent area
The reshaping bone undergoes after healing
Excessive muscle breakdown causing the release of muscle proteins into the circulation.
One of a group of chronic inflammatory conditions that destroy a joint leading to arthritis
A method of treatment of acute injuries. It stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.
A group of four tendons that spread out to surround the shoulder joint to both move it and stabilize it.
The joint between the sacrum and ilium of the pelvis. It lies just beneath the dimples of the buttocks.
The lowest end of the spine which joins with the two innominagte bones to form the pelvis
One of the three planes through the body akin to a side view
One of the bones of the wrist at the base of the thumb
Thickening of bone, often seen just underneath the articular cartilage in osteoarthritis
Lateral curvature of the spine
Infection of a joint.
The bones that lie within the flexor tendon to the big toe beneath the metatarsal head
An outdated term for medial tibial stress syndrome
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis
A hip injury in adolescents where the head of femur slips off the neck leading to pain (that may actually be felt in the knee) and in more severe cases abnormal rotation of the hip and shortening of the leg
An incomplete tear of a tendon or ligament
An overuse injury akin to metal fatigue where the repeated stresses on a bone outweigh its innate capacity to heal.
A partial dislocation of a joint whereby there remains some contact between the surfaces
Rotation outwards of the forearm
The joint between the tibia and fibula above the ankle joint.
The fluid that lubricates and provides nutrition to a joint
Inflammation of the synovial lining of a joint
The thin fluid producing membrane that lines a joint
A congenital fusion of two of of the tarsal bones of the hindfoot
Tarsal tunnel syndrome
A painful constriction due to pressure of the posterior tibial nerve at the ankle
Inflammation of a tendon
The cord of fibrous tissue that forms the connection between a muscle and the bone it acts on via its insertion
Triangular fibrocartilaginous complex (TFCC)
A small, fibrocartilaginous structure in the wrist that lies between the distal end of the ulna and the carpal bones.
A concave part of a joint, classically at the distal end of the femur and the distal end of the humerus
A prominence on a bone where tendons insert.
On the side of the forearm or hand on which the ulns lies (Opposite to the thumb side)
Angulation of a limb such that the more distal part is further away from the midline
Angulation of a limb such that the more distal part is closer to the midline
Toward the front of the body.