Medical Terminology

You can obtain a brief description of the different types of lesions by selecting any one of the words mentioned above. Please note that the suffix –itis signifies inflammation and that the beginning of the word denotes the structure affected. For example, capsulitis indicates an inflammation of the capsule. One must not presume to be able to achieve a self-diagnosis using this tool. Consult one of our professionals for a proper evaluation.


Arthritis is an inflammatory process located in a particular joint. This term is used generally, encompassing a fair number of potential problems.

Several systemic diseases are at the base of an arthritic problem. The most common are: rheumatoid arthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis and lupus.

Arthritis can also be caused by trauma and thus affect a single joint. Ultimately, any lesion of a periarticular structure (capsulitis, bursitis, tendonitis, etc.) is classified as an arthritic problem.

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Degeneration of the cartilage of a joint, evident by the loss of the smooth, viscous surface that permits fluid movement. By becoming porous and fragile, the cartilage of an affected joint can expose an underlying layer, the periosteum, which can lead to intense pain at times.

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Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursa; tiny sacs containing synovial fluid which is a liquid that reduces the friction between two structures during joint movement. The most frequent locations of this type of inflammation are at the shoulder, hip and knee. The principal causes impact directly on an articulation and on the degenerative process of arthritis.

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Inflammation present in the joint capsule. The group of synovial joints (those which are surrounded by a sac of synovial fluid) possesses a set of ligaments that allow the stabilization of the joint and provide it with cells offering proprioceptive capabilities (recognition of one’s position in space). This inflammation provokes pain and retraction: the shortening and loss of elasticity of fibers, resulting in a noticeable loss of movement in the affected joint.

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Cervical pain / dorsalgia / lumbar pain

These terms refer to pain originating in the cervical, dorsal or lumbar areas whose nature has yet to be determined. In fact, a multitude of structures can cause this pain. Those which seem to be most often responsible are the intervertebral disk and the articular facets.

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An injury to a muscle, one of its tendons or periosteum (thin layer of tissue covering the bones), caused by an impact on the structure. This type of lesion is particularly common in contact sports.

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A term associated with an overstretching of a muscle or one of its tendons. The vast majority of muscles are attached at each of their extremities to two different bones. This area of attachment consists of an intermediary structure known as a tendon.

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A sprain results from the excessive stretching of a given ligament. A rapid swelling accompanied by heat and local pain is generally present. The ankle sprain is the most common and constitutes approximately 15% of sports injuries.

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An injury to bone tissue causing a break in its cellular structure at a given site. A fracture can be almost imperceptible even on a normal X-ray. Certain stress fractures require a bone scan in order to confirm the clinical diagnosis. However, a fracture can also be characterized by a significant bone displacement, even to the point of skin laceration.

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Herniated disk

A herniated disk is characterized by a displacement of part of the center of the intervertebral disk outside of its’ fibrous ring (a ligament structure), affecting neighbouring structures, sometimes a nerve. At this point, a person might feel sciatica discomfort (pain in a lower limb) or brachial discomfort (pain in an upper limb). Strong and/or prolonged compression of a nerve can result in pain, tingling or weakness. A herniated disk corresponds to a disk displacement equivalent to a Level 3 classification. The majority of people suffer from a Level 1 or 2 displacement; a type of protrusion of the disk. One should be aware that 99% of disk problems could be managed by conservative treatment, either by medication or physiotherapy.

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A headache is a symptom of a related problem. Some are light and occasional demanding no particular intervention. Others are more aggressive and frequent, demanding closer investigation. Localizing a headache plus a good evaluation should allow for determining the source. Cervical problems, temporo-mandibular dysfunction, food allergies or a vascular problem are some of the probable causes which trigger headaches.

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Sciatica pain

Pain transferred via the sciatic nerve to a lower limb, generally due to compression of one of the nerve endings composing this peripheral nerve.

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Subluxation / luxation

Each articulation has a limit to its’ own amplitude. Amplitude can be limited by various structures; such as, ligaments, bones, muscles, etc. Subluxation occurs when an articulation exceeds its normal anatomical amplitude thus causing an injury to neighbouring structures. Luxation occurs when two articular surfaces have completely lost their congruency for either a brief or lengthy period of time.

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Abnormal augmentation of the quantity of synovial fluid produced in the bursa of an articulation. This increase in fluid raises the intra-articular pressure resulting in localized pain.

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Tendonitis, or inflammation of the tendon, can happen following repeated movement (overuse), a sudden trauma (elongation or too much effort) or be associated with a vertebral problem. Certain episodes of tendonitis occur so frequently during the practice of specific sports that they are deserving of a name linked to that activity; for example, tennis or golfers elbow . The majority of muscles are attached at each of their extremities to two different bones. This area of attachment consists of an intermediary structure known as a tendon.

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