Make the most of your appointments by knowing the Chiropractic Terminology. By familiarizing yourself with basic
Chiropractic Terminology before your appointment, you can be sure to understand your prognosis and ask your
chiropractor the proper questions during and after your examination. Keep up with your chiropractor by reviewing
the list of terms below:
Acute Traumatic Injuries: Acute traumatic injuries usually involve a single blow from a single application of force
such as a car accident. Examples include fracture, strain, sprain, abrasion and laceration. Acute pain from injury
generally requires immediate attention, including first aid treatment with rest, ice, compression and elevation; or
Adjustment: An adjustment is a gentle force introduced into the spine, typically by hand with the intent of releasing
a vertebral segment from its abnormal motion and/or position thereby reducing the vertebral subluxation.
Arthritis: Arthritis refers to a group of more than one hundred rheumatic diseases and other conditions that can
cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Any part of your body can become inflamed or painful from
arthritis. It essentially is a gradual breakdown or deterioration of the joint spaces in your musculoskeletal system.
Atlas: The Atlas is the name of the first bone of your neck or cervical spine. It is also known as C1 or cervical
vertebra number one. This is the most freely moveable bone of the spine.
Activator Adjusting Instrument: A spring loaded hand held instrument used by some chiropractors. This
instrument utilizes a rapid pulse to tap the misaligned vertebrae back into place to restore normal spinal function.
Acute Pain: Acute pain refers to any specific, sharp pain that is of rapid onset or pain that results from a specific
traumatic incident such as an injury. Acute pain is very isolated, comes on quickly, but often has a limited duration.
Applied Kinesiology: Applied kinesiology, also known as AK, is a diagnostic method created by George
Goodheart, D.C. AK is a technique used to diagnose illness or choose treatment by testing muscles for strength
and weakness. This method of testing muscle strength can detect disease, vitamin deficiency or other problems.
Asthma: Asthma is a chronic or long term lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. It causes
recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing. The coughing often occurs at
night or early in the morning. Asthma affects people of all ages, but it most often starts during childhood.
Abdomen: The abdomen is that part of the torso which lies between the diaphragm and the pelvis. It is
commonly referred to as the stomach, belly or "tummy". Inside the abdominal cavity are a number of important
organs, including the liver, pancreas, spleen and kidneys. A large part of the digestive tract is also found there,
including the stomach and the small and large intestine.
Afferent: This is the sensory division of peripheral nervous system composed of nerve fibers that relay impulses
to the brain from sensory receptors located in the different parts of the body.
Antalgic Position: An abnormal position a patient places themselves in to avoid or minimize pain. It often
indicates the evidence of medial or lateral disc protrusion.
Anterior: At or toward the front of the body. Anterior is the opposite of posterior.
Articulation: An area where two bones are attached for the purpose of motion of body parts. An articulation, or
joint, is usually formed of fibrous connective tissue and cartilage.
Assignment: An agreement between the healthcare provider and patient to waive payment until a claim is
processed and paid by an insurance company. The assignment allows for payment then to be paid directly to the
Atrophy: Atrophy is the partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body. When muscles atrophy, a
decrease in mass occurs which then leads to muscle weakness, since the ability to exert force is directly related
to a muscles mass.
Autonomic Nervous System: This is part of the peripheral nervous system and is often abbreviated ANS. There
are two major components of the autonomic nervous system; the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems.
The ANS is responsible for regulating the involuntary functions in the body, such as digestion, metabolism, blood
pressure, flight or fight responses; just to name a few. In most situations, we are unaware of the workings of the
ANS because it functions in an involuntary, reflexive manner.
Acupressure: The practice of applying pressure to specific meridian points on the body to relieve pain.
Acupressure deals with all the aspects of a person as a whole: body, emotions, mind, and spirit as one, not as
separate parts. It relaxes muscular tension and balances the vital life forces of the body.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve
functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise
acupuncture points. Acupuncture and Acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture uses needles, while
Acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands. This treatment is highly effective at relieving tension,
stress and pain.
Addiction: This is a condition where an individual actually craves and is addicted to consuming a particular
substance, having a certain thing, or doing a particular activity. Addiction is a real disease with psychological,
genetic and psychosocial aspects. People with an addiction do not have control over what they are doing, taking
Adrenal Glands: Your adrenal, or suprarenal glands are located on the top of each kidney. These glands
produce hormones that you can't live without, including sex hormones and cortisol, which helps you respond to
stress and has many other functions.
Adrenaline: Adrenaline is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland in the body. The term "fight or flight" is often
used to characterize the circumstances under which adrenaline is released into the body. When it is produced in
the body it stimulates the heart-rate, contracts blood vessels, dilates air passages, stimulates metabolism,
increases alertness and has a number of more minor effects. Adrenaline is naturally produced in high-stress or
physically exhilarating situations.
Aerobic Exercises: Aerobic exercise is any activity that raises the body's demand for oxygen, resulting in a
temporary increase in rate of respiration and heart rate. It is a type of exercise that overloads the heart and lungs
and causes them to work harder than at rest. The important idea behind aerobic exercise today, is to get up and
get moving. Your heart and lungs become stronger and works more efficiently with regular aerobic exercise.
Amino Acid: Amino acids are used in every cell of your body; they are used to build the proteins you need to
survive. The human body can produce ten of its twenty needed amino acids on its own, but the other ten, which
are called essential amino acids, can only be obtained by eating the right foods. The other ten are known as
non-essential amino acids that the body can produce at will from amino acids already present. All the chemical
reactions that occur in the body depend on amino acids and the proteins they build.
Alternative Medicine: A variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices, such as chiropractic,
homeopathy, naturopathy and herbal medicine, that take an all natural approach to health and healing. Unlike the
medical model they utilize a variety of non-drug and non-surgical treatment.
Anabolism: Anabolism, also known as biosynthesis, is the process by which our bodies make complex
molecules and substances from less complex components. Anabolism leads to growth as molecules are
produced from smaller components and are then added to our bones or muscles. Anabolism is a divergent
process, which means that it produces a massive variety of different complex molecules from a relatively low
number of simple substances.
Analgesics: Analgesics are drugs designed to relieve pain. The pain relief induced by analgesics occurs either
by blocking pain signals going to the brain or by interfering with the brain's interpretation of the signals, without
producing anesthesia or loss of consciousness. Aspirin is an example.
Anesthesiologist: A specialist who administers an anesthetic to a patient before they are treated. Their job is to
block, prevent and provide pain relief during certain procedure.
Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing Spondylitis is a form of chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac
joints. It is also a systemic disease, meaning it can affect and spread to other tissues throughout the body. This
condition leads to loss of mobility of the spine as it causes calcification of the spinal ligaments, resulting in a
loss of movement. Imagine your feet being stuck in hardened cement.
Annulus Fibrosis: The tough outermost layer of the spinal intervertebral disc. It is a cartilage-like material formed
by a series of rings that surround the nucleus pulpopus which is the soft center of the disc.
Amphiarthrosis: A joint that permits slight mobility. Most amphiarthrosis joints are cartilaginous joints such as