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Back Pain Special Report

Back Pain and Osteoporosis Glossary

Health After 50 Back Pain and Osteoporosis Back Pain and Osteoporosis Glossary

Johns Hopkins Back Pain and Osteoporosis Glossary

Derived from The Johns Hopkins White Paper: Back Pain and Osteoporosis



Type of massage in which continuous pressure is exerted on a trigger spot for 3–5 minutes. acupuncture
Traditional Chinese treatment in which thin needles are placed at specific spots along the body.

Illness or symptoms that appear suddenly and have a short course.

alkaline phosphatase
Enzyme released by bone-forming cells called osteoblasts. Blood levels of the enzyme are elevated in people with Paget’s disease.

An agent that alleviates pain without causing loss of consciousness.

ankylosing spondylitis
Chronic inflammation of the facet joints and sacroiliac joints (between the sacrum and the pelvis).

annulus fibrosus
Tough, fibrous layers of tissue that cover an intervertebral disk.

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balance exercise
A type of exercise that, when practiced regularly, can increase balance and help prevent falls; examples are tai chi and yoga.

Back pain treatment in which the person practices different relaxation methods while using electronic sensors to measure bodily functions, such as muscle tension, breathing patterns, and heart rate.

A class of drugs that help preserve bone mass by slowing bone resorption.

body mechanics
Habitual ways of moving that can affect back health.

bone mass
The amount of bone tissue in the body.

bone mineral density testing
Radiological testing to measure bone density. Testing gives accurate measurements of the amount of bone but not the actual structure or quality of bone.

bone quality
The architecture/geometry and the material properties of bone and bone tissue.

bone remodeling
Process by which old bone is resorbed and new bone is formed.

bone resorption
Breakdown of old bone.

bone scan
Imaging test that involves injecting radioactive technetium and then measuring how much radioactivity is taken up by specific areas of bone. This test can detect metastatic cancer, bony overgrowths in Paget’s disease, bacterial infections of the spine, and small fractures that are not visible on x-rays.

bone spur
See osteophytes.

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A naturally occurring hormone involved in calcium regulation and bone metabolism.

calcium carbonate/citrate
Forms of calcium used for calcium supplementation.

cauda equina
Bundle of nerve roots at the bottom of the spinal cord.

caudal epidural block
Injection of medication directly into the base of the spine.

cervical spine
Refers to the neck.

Health-care professional who uses techniques such as physical manipulation and adjustment of the spine, massage, application of heat or cold, and electrical stimulation to treat back problems.

A term for the tailbone.

A soft protein that hardens with the deposition of calcium and phosphorus; it is a main component of bone.

Colles fracture
A common type of fracture in which the break occurs across the end of the main bone of the forearm.

compression fracture
Fracture of a vertebral body that results in loss of height or complete collapse of the vertebral body; it usually occurs in bones weakened by osteoporosis.

computed tomography (CAT or CT) scan
Imaging technique in which the person lies on a special table while x-rays are passed through the body and sensed by a detector that rotates 360 degree around the person. A computer combines the information into a cross-sectional picture that shows body structures and fluids, blood clots, tumors, and bones.

CT myelogram
CT scan carried out after contrast material is injected into the spinal canal; it offers good detail of bone and soft tissue.

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decompression surgery
A procedure that involves enlarging the spinal canal to relieve pressure on the spinal cord.

deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Blood clotting that occurs in the deep veins of the leg.

dietary reference intake (DRI)
Recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals as determined by the Institute of Medicine.

disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs
Drugs that interfere with tumor necrosis factor, which contributes to inflammation.

Surgical treatment for a herniated disk that takes pressure off a pinched nerve by making an incision in the annulus fibrosus and removing the extruded nucleus pulposus.

disk replacement
Surgical procedure that replaces a herniated disk with an artificial one.

Movement of bone fragments from their original positions.

dowager’s hump
Kyphosis in the upper back. Common in older women, it can result from disk degeneration, the collapse of vertebrae due to osteoporosis, or both.

dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)
A test to measure bone mineral density wherein two x-ray beams are directed at the spine or hip joint, and a computer calculates the amount of energy that passes through the bone.

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A test that uses electrodes to measure muscle abnormalities.

Pain-blocking chemicals produced by the body.

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facet joints
Joints formed by the interlocking of bony projections at the rear of adjacent vertebrae.

Refers to the thighbone.

A forward bending of the spine.

Spaces between adjacent vertebrae.

A break in a bone caused by injury or osteoporosis. hemiarthroplasty
An operation to repair hip fracture that involves replacing the head and neck of the femur with a prosthesis.

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herniated disk
Bulging of the central part of an intervertebral disk (nucleus pulposus) through the fibrous layers of tissue (annulus fibrosus) that cover it.

hip replacement
Surgery to implant an artificial hip joint to replace a damaged hip joint. (See also total hip replacement, hemiarthroplasty, and internal fixation.)

hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
The administration of low-dose estrogen with or without progesterone to reduce the symptoms and rapid loss of bone that accompany menopause in women. Women who have had a hysterectomy do not need to take progesterone.

Excessive production of parathyroid hormone by the parathyroid gland; it weakens bones by promoting loss of calcium from bone.

Excessive production of thyroid hormone that can result in osteoporosis.

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intermittent claudication
Pain in the buttocks, thighs, or calves while walking. The pain, caused by impaired blood flow to the legs, stops promptly when the person rests. The pain of spinal stenosis may be confused with intermittent claudication.

internal fixation
An operation to repair a hip fracture that involves inserting metal screws into the bone to hold it together while it heals.

intervertebral disk
Flexible pad of tissue located between vertebrae that acts as a cushion during movement, preventing vertebrae from grinding against each other.

intradiskal electrothermal therapy
A minimally invasive procedure in which the nerves in the outer wall of the disk are destroyed with a heated wire.

Synthetic isoflavone (structurally similar to isoflavones found in soy) that may prevent or treat osteoporosis.

A plant compound found in soy foods that has weak estrogen-like activity.

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A new technique for treating vertebral compression fractures in which the collapsed vertebra is expanded using a special balloon and then filled with cement.

An abnormal accentuation of the usual curvature of the upper back and commonly referred to as a humpback or hunchback.

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lactose intolerance
An inability to digest the naturally occurring sugars in dairy foods.

laser diskectomy
Surgical treatment for a herniated disk that uses a laser to burn out the inside of the disk; it is a less invasive alternative to diskectomy.

Spinal deformity in which the abdomen is thrust too far forward and the buttocks too far to the rear; also called swayback.

lumbar spine
The lower back.

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magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
A sensitive imaging technique that surrounds a person with a powerful magnet while radio waves are passed through the body.

massage therapy
A therapy used to ease tension and relax back muscles.

A surgical treatment for a herniated disk that is done through a very small opening, it is a less invasive alternative to diskectomy.

muscle relaxants
Drugs that work by depressing the activity of nerves in the spinal cord and brain; they are used with caution as they cause drowsiness and are potentially addictive.

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nerve conduction test
A test that examines nerve function. n-teleopeptides
A by-product of the breakdown of bone that can be measured in urine tests.

Posted in Back Pain on April 14, 2007


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