Back Pain Vocabulary

Here are some back pain and related medical words, phrases and terms you could come across while reading our articles and books about neck and back pain.

Acupuncture: In traditional acupuncture, fine needles are inserted in certain points of the body to redirect the flow of the body's energy and thus stimulate healing. It is often recommended for sciatica and pain relief.

Aerobic: refers to activities in which oxygen is used as the main fuel in energy you need to perform. Aerobic activities are especially helpful in metabolizing fat cells and improving your body's production and release of beta endorphins (chemical pain relief.) Aerobic exercise is recommended at least three times a week, with at least 10-60 minutes which your heart rate stays around your target heart rate.

Anaerobic: refers to activities performed at such a high intensity or rate that oxygen cannot provide the needed fuel fast enough; classic examples include heavy weightlifting or running the mile at a fast rate of speed.

Centralization: a phenomenon in which pain "backtracks," moving nearer to its original source

Cervical: neck

Closed-chain action: a muscle contraction in the arm or leg that takes place when the hand or the foot are firmly in contact with a surface. This action will yield a movement of the body over the fixed hand or foot (for example, push-ups or squats).

Distal: endmost part

Epidural steroid injections: These are commonly used if there is evidence of a radiculopathy. They involve injecting steroid medications into the back near where the nerve is presumably being pressed and may be used one to three times.

Proximal: closer to the torso or the midline of the body. (when using this term to for the arms and legs, proximal means closer to the body)

Flexion: forward bending

Isometric: a muscle contraction in which the muscle shortens, bending the joint(s) over which it crosses

Lumbar: lower back pain.

Lordosis: the slight arched (extended) position normally found in the low back and neck regions

Open-chain reaction: a muscle contraction in the arm or leg that takes place when the foot or hand is free to move. This action will yield a movement of the hand or foot through space (for example ,kicking a soccer ball, throwing a baseball).

Peripherilization: a phenomenon in which pain spreads from its source of origin +to a+ location farther away.

Prone: stomach lying

Sciatica: sciatica is an irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. To understand how and why this condition occurs, it is first necessary to learn the basic anatomy of the spine. The spinal area includes: the spinal cord, made up of nerves; the vertebrae; the intervertebral discs; the muscles; the tendons; the ligaments; and the connective tissues.

Stenosis: a narrowing of the bony tunnel through which either a spinal nerve of the spinal cord runs Supine: back-lying

TENS: TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) and more recently PENS (percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) treatments are often used for chronic pain. TENS involves delivering tiny electric shocks from the surface of the skin. The stimulation seems to work by drawing our attention away from pain sensations.

Thoracic: mid-back region where the ribs attach