Glossary - Orthopedics

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Arthralgia - pain in the joint.

Arthritis - inflammation of the joint.

Arthrogram - x-ray of a joint.

Arthroscopy - the use of an intra-articular camera inserted into the joint through a small incision to show the inside of a joint; the procedure allows the physician to also assess, repair, or reconstruct various tissues both within and around joints.


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Bone scan - a nuclear imaging method to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joints; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain or inflammation.

Bursas - fluid-filled sacs between bones and ligaments, or other adjacent structures.

Bursitis - inflammation of the bursas.


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Cartilage - a connective tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint.

Cast - a cast holds a broken bone in place as it heals, prevents or decreases muscle contractures, or provides immobilization, especially after surgery. Casts immobilize the joint above and the joint below the area that is to be kept straight and without motion. For example, a child with a forearm fracture will have a long arm cast to immobilize the wrist and elbow joints.

Clubfoot - also known as talipes equinovarus, clubfoot is a foot deformity that is detected at birth. It affects the bones, muscles, tendons, and blood vessels and can affect one or both feet. The foot is usually short and broad in appearance and the heel points downward while the front half of the foot, or forefoot, turns inward. The heel cord (Achilles tendon) is tight. The heel can appear narrow and the muscles in the calf are smaller compared to a normal lower leg.

Computed tomography scan (Also called CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

Congenital - present at birth.

Contusion - bruise.


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Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) - a condition of the hip joint that is congenital (present at birth). The hip joint is created as a ball-and-socket joint. In DDH, the hip socket may be shallow, letting the "ball" of the long leg bone, also known as the femoral head, slip in and out of the socket. The "ball" may move partially or completely out of the hip socket.

Dislocation - a dislocation occurs when extreme force is put on a ligament causing the two bone ends to separate. Dislocations can also affect a joint, the point where two or more bones come together. The joint is created as a "ball-and-socket" joint. A dislocated joint causes the head of the bone (ball) to partially or completely come out of the socket.


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Electromyogram (EMG) - a test that measures the electrical activity of a muscle or a group of muscles. An EMG can detect abnormal electrical muscle activity due to diseases and neuromuscular conditions.


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Femur - thighbone.

Fractures - a partial or complete break in the bone.


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Joint - where the ends of two or more bones meet.

Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) - a form of arthritis in children ages 16 or younger that causes inflammation and stiffness of the joints.


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Kyphosis - a forward curvature of the back bones (vertebrae) in the upper back area, giving the child a " humpback" appearance.


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Legg-Calv�-Perthes disease - A temporary condition in children in which the head, or "ball," of the thigh bone, referred to as the femoral head, loses its blood supply. As a result, the "ball" of the thigh bone collapses. The body will absorb the dead tissue and replace the dead bone cells with new bone cells. The new bone cells will eventually reshape the "ball" of the thigh bone. This condition causes the hip joint to become painful and stiff for a period of time.

Ligaments - a white, shiny, flexible band of fibrous tissue that binds joints together and connects various bones and cartilage.

Lordosis - a curvature of the back bones (vertebrae) in the lower back area, giving the child a "swayback" appearance.


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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Metatarsus adductus (Also called metatarsus varus.) - a common, congenital (present at birth) foot deformity that causes the front half of the foot, or forefoot, to turn inward.

Muscular dystrophy (MD) - is a broad term that describes a genetic (inherited) disorder of the muscles. MD causes the muscles in the body to become very weak. The muscles break down and are replaced with fatty deposits over time. The most common form of MD is called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

Musculoskeletal system - the complex system that include: bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.


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Nursemaid's elbow - a condition common in children younger than 4 years of age in which the radius (one of the bones of the forearm) slips out of place from its attachment to the elbow joint.


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Orthopedic surgeon (Also called an orthopedist.) - a physician who diagnoses, treats, manages the rehabilitation process, and provides prevention protocols for patients who suffer from injury or disease in any of the components of the musculoskeletal system.

Orthopedic surgery (Also called orthopedics.) - the medical specialty devoted to the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention of injuries and diseases of the body's musculoskeletal system.

Osgood-Schlatter disease - An overuse condition or injury of the knee that causes pain and swelling below the knee area.

Osteogenesis imperfecta (Also called OI or brittle-bone disease.) - a genetic (inherited) disorder characterized by bones that break easily. There may not be a particular cause for the broken bones.

Osteomyelitis - an infection in the bone.

Overuse conditions - injuries due to minor trauma involving soft tissue injuries -injuries that affect the bone, muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons.


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Patella - the knee-cap.


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Rheumatologist - a physician who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases that may affect joints, muscles, bones, skin, and other tissues.

R.I.C.E. - rest, ice, compression, and elevation.


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Scoliosis - a lateral, or sideways curvature and rotation of the back bones (vertebrae), giving the appearance that the person is leaning to one side.

Septic (infectious) arthritis - an infection in the joint fluid and tissues.

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) - a condition in children in which the head, or "ball," of the thigh bone, referred to as the femoral head, slips off the neck of the thigh bone. An analogy commonly used to describe this condition is that is can be like a scoop of ice cream slipping off the top of a cone. This condition causes the hip joint to become painful and stiff.

Soft tissue - the ligaments, tendons, and muscles in the musculoskeletal system.

Sprain - a partial or complete tear of a ligament.

Strain - a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon.

Stress fracture - a bone injury caused by overuse.

Synovial fluid - a clear, sticky fluid that is released by the synovial membrane and acts as a lubricant for joints and tendons.

Synovial membrane - a tissue that lines and seals the joint.


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Tendons - the tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones.

Tibia - the shin bone.

Tibial torsion - an inward twist of the shin bones, the bones that are located between the knee and the ankle. Tibial torsion causes the child's feet to turn inward, or have what is also known as a "pigeon-toed" appearance. It is typically seen among toddlers.


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X-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.


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