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Understanding Medical Language

Some of the words used on this site may be unfamiliar to you. We have aimed to define as many anatomical and medical terms as possible throughout the text. The glossary below, provides you with an easy reference to clarify terms you don’t understand.

is a method of educating patients about the neurophysiology of pain that aims to reconceptualize pain from an indicator of damage to an interpretation of input signals by the brain and nervous system.

or electromyostimulation, is the elicitation of muscle contraction using electric impulses.

is a condition that features joints that easily move beyond the normal range expected for that particular joint.

Pilates is an exercise method of improving muscle control and flexibility which is often used in rehabilitation of painful injuries.

a person’s pattern of walking.

Observation and analysis of fundamental patterns of movement such as bending, squatting, balancing and walking.

 

relating to or designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.

CBT is a way of focusing on the cognitive processes that produce feelings. The approach helps by changing people’s behavior and attitudes with a deeper understanding of thoughts, images, beliefs, and attitudes.

The process of adjusting a bike for a cyclist to optimize their comfort, performance and efficiency, taking into account their riding experience, objectives, and physical condition.

focuses on helping patients to behave more consistently with their own values and apply mindfulness and acceptance skills to their responses to uncontrollable experiences.

The branch of medicine or social science dealing with the health and care of older people.

The acetabular labrum is a triangular fibrocartilaginous fringe that joins the edge of the hip socket (acetabulum). It serves to protect the joint by making it a little deeper and trapping fluid between the bones – this allows the fluid to absorb loads that occur when landing on your foot.

The hip socket. This is situated in the pelvis

Referring to the front surface of the body – stomach, front of pelvis, thigh, legs etc.

Refers to irritation and inflammation of the apophysis, a secondary ossification center (growth plate) which acts as an insertion site for a tendon from a muscle. Growth plates are made up of cartilage cells, which are softer and more vulnerable to injury than mature bone. Muscle pull can put increased tension and stress on the apophysis, which results in irritation and inflammation “apophysitis”. It is a condition that only occurs in those still growing, affecting many young athletes. Apophysitis is often know as “growing pain”.  Read more about growing pains here.

Fluid-filled sac or sac-like cavity. It helps all these things slide and glide against one another countering friction at a joint

Is the thickening of the bursa in size compared to normal. This may be secondary to a blow to the area such as a fall, or secondary to repeated trauma such as excessive compression from the tendons and bones that the bursa sits between.

Fibrous sheath that surrounds a joint. Reinforced by ligaments to provide stability for the joint. The capsule also traps synovial fluid within the joint.

In the case of the hip joint, cartilage is a tough, elastic, fibrous connective tissue that covers and protects the ends of long bones at the joints.

A hormone produced by the adrenal cortex. One of the glucocorticoids, it is also made synthetically for use as an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy agent. It is often used in injections to help reduce inflammation in areas of the body, for example, into a joint or bursa. Several recent high quality research trials have started to question the long term possibly detrimental affects of cortisone injections, or to suggest other (such as exercise) more affective pathways to recovery.

Thin fibrous stockings that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and organs.

The ball shape at the top of the femur that makes up the hip joint. The head of femur sits in the acetabulum, or socket of the pelvis. The ball can vary in shape with different individuals which may affect pathology.

The part of the femur that runs from the head to the shaft. This runs at an oblique angle to the shaft which can vary with each individual and may affect pathology.

The main thigh bone running from the hip down to the knee.

Or thigh bone, the large bone making up the thigh running from the knee to the hip.

Fibrocartilage is a mixture of fibrous tissue and cartilaginous tissue. The mixture provides a combination of flexibility, toughness and elasticity. The acetabular labrum is composed of fibrocartilage.

Pathology of the tendon attaching the gluteal muscles (or one of) to the bone – read more on our specific condition page

These are the major muscles of the buttock that extend (take back) the leg, externally rotate (rotate outwards) and abduct (outwards away from the midline). Gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle of the body making up the vast proportion of the buttock. Gluteus medius is smaller, gluteus minimus smaller still, and both sit more around the lateral aspect (outside) of the hip helping to play an important role in stabilising this area, very important in helping to be able to support the leg when standing on one leg.

There is a part of the thigh bone (femur) that is more prominent at the side of the hip. This is called the greater trochanter. Most of the muscles that help you balance when you are standing on one leg either join onto or pass over this bony area. They serve as an anchor point for some of the gluteal (buttock) muscles.

Also known as the epiphyseal plate or physis, is the area of growing tissue near the end of the long bones in children and adolescents. Each long bone has at least two growth plates, one at each end. The growth plate determines the future length and shape of the mature bone.

Taking the thigh out to the side away from the midline of the body.

Bringing the thigh in towards the midline of the body.

Taking the thigh back behind the body.

Rotating the thigh so that the leg turns outwards.

Bending of the thigh up to the front of the chest.

The muscles situated ay the front of the hip responsible for flexing the hip, that is, bringing the knee up towards the chest.

Rotating the thigh so the leg turns in towards the other leg.

See bursa definition. This bursa sits under the deep hip flexors of the hip, the cusion of fluid protecting the iliopsoas (made up of psoas and iliacus muscles) from rubbing on the bone of the pelvis here called the iliopectineal prominence. It also seperates the undersurface of the tendon from the external surface of the hip joint.

Is the deepest of the hip flexor muscles. Although helping to move the hip it also helps to stabilise and therefore protect the hip joint. It can also have a role in tilting the pelvis and has attachments to the spine, therefore also involving the lumbar (low) spine. The iliopsoas is in fact 2 muscles, iliacus and psoas.

See acetabular labrum. is a triangular fibrocartilaginous fringe that joins the edge of the hip socket (acetabulum). It serves to protect the joint by making it a little deeper and trapping fluid between the bones – this allows the fluid to absorb loads that occur when landing on your foot.

Refers to the side of the body or a body part that is farther from the middle or centre of the body.

A ligament joins bone to bone. It is composed of tough, elastic fibrous tissue (collagen). A ligament’s main purpose is to support a joint, holding the bones close together for stability but allowing them to rotate and glide to provide movement. The main ligaments around the hip joint include the ligamentum teres, the iliofemoral ligament, pubofemoral ligament and the ischiofemoral ligament.

In the case of this website, load refers to the amount of activity a person is doing. This may be low load, very gentle exercise, through to high load involving much greater levels of activity.

The lowest 5 vertebrae (the bones that make up the spinal column) of the back. Pain from the structures in the lumbar pain can refer pain into the pelvis and legs (see “referred pain” term)

Refers to the side of the body or a body part that is closer to the midline or centre of the body.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a non-invasive diagnostic technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed image of the body’s soft tissue and bones. An MRI images the body by using a magnet that goes around the body to excite hydrogen atoms.

Connect to the skelton and when contracting and relaxing allow your body to move and control itself.

Relating to or denoting the musculature and skeleton together.

A bundle of fibers that uses electrical and chemical signals to transmit sensory and motor information from or to a body part via the spinal cord and/or brain.

Referring to the back surface of the body – back, buttocks, back of thighs etc.

Some professionals are trained to use ultrasound to assist in their practice. Ultrasound can be a valuable tool allowing the professional to show the patient their muscles, in live time, on screen. This can assist in earning how to switch these muscles back on if they don’t work well, or switch them off if they work at the wrong time. Ultrasound used this way can have a valuable role in aiding rehabilitation.

This is the only one of your quadriceps muscles, the muscles at the front of the thigh that runs over both the knee and the hip. It is a big powerful muscle that can bend the hip, but also straighten the knee. Its dual action puts it at risk of more injury with fast activities such as kicking and sprinting. It has a direct link with the hip joint and may put adverse stress and strain onto the joint structures.

Pain felt in a part of the body other than the actual source of the problem. This phenomenon is thought to occur due to nerves from each region inputting information into similar areas of the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain). Messages from one area may then be reflected into an associated area, even though the original tissue messages did not arrive from there.

One of the hip flexor muscles, sitting more on the surface of the thigh, running from the front of the hip to the inside of your knee. It is a long strappy muscle as if sometimes injured, usually when sprinting.

This is the joint where the ilium bones of the pelvis meet the sacrum, the bone sitting below the bottom of the low back. There are 2 joints, one on each side. The joints are supported by very strong ligaments. The SIJ can be a source of pain through the buttocks and into the leg.

Connect, support, or surround other structures and organs in the body. They do not include anything bony. They can include the muscles, the tendons, the bursae and the fascia.

Fluid within a joint produced by the synovial lining which lines the inside of the joint capsule. Fluid within the joint provides joint lubrication, nutrition for the joint and absorbs some of the forces that cross the joint, therefore protecting the cartilage layers.

Refers to changes of a tendon where the tendon fibers become disorganised. The clinical presentation includes tenderness on palpation and pain, often when exercising or with movement. The term “tendonitis” was used previously when the thought was that this was an inflammatory condition. However research demonstrated a lack of inflammatory markers so the “itis” became an “opathy” suggestive more of a degenerative type of change in the tendon. As techniques have improved, recent research has now discovered there are some inflammatory markers in the acute injury, that is, when the injury has just occurred.

A tendon joins muscle to bone. It is a strong fibrous cord that stores and transmits energy and allows the muscle to move the bone to which it is attached.

An often bulky muscle that helps to bend the hip. It sits on the lateral, outside aspect of the front of the hip linking into the iliotibial band (ITB), a band of thick fascia that runs down the outside of the thigh, from the hip to the knee. Due to its position it also has a role in controlling movement sideways of the hip.

Any of the distinct types of material of which animals or plants are made, consisting of specialized cells and their products. it consists of a group of structurally and functionally similar cells and their intercellular material. Examples of tissue are bone, muscle and tendon.

Increased fluid in the small pocket of fluid acting as cushioning between the trochanter and the soft tissues. Read more here on our specific condition page.

Some professionals are trained to use ultrasound to assist in their practice. Ultrasound can be a valuable tool allowing the professional to show the patient their muscles, in live time, on screen. This can assist in earning how to switch these muscles back on if they don’t work well, or switch them off if they work at the wrong time. Ultrasound used this way can have a valuable role in aiding rehabilitation.

Using set frequencies of sound waves that bounce back off the body forming a picture, ultrasound can be used to help diagnose conditions. It is better at assessing soft tissue, and not so good at looking at bone.

The internal organs in the main cavities of the body, especially those in the abdomen, e.g. the intestines.

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Looking for more information on your diagnosis check out the specific conditions page.

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