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Back Care Glossary

Below is a list of the medical terms you might hear mentioned by health professions talking about back pain:

Abdominal : The are of your body including; stomach, intestines and other digestive organs.

Acupuncture : Where fine needles are used to control the bodies energy flows.

Ankylosing Spondylitis : A painful disease that causes joints to swell up and the bones to fuse together.

Bilateral : On both sides of the body.

Cervical: The seven vertebrae that make up the neck.

Coccyx : The last bone of the spine, often referred to as the tail bone. It is made up of four tiny joined vertebrae.

Conservative Management : Non-surgical treatment of back problems.

Degeneration of the disk : The disks between the vertebrae break up as they become more rigid, this restricts movement of the spine.

Facet Joints : The point where two vertebrae meet and rub against each other.

Inflammation : Tenderness, heat pain and swelling caused by the body's reaction to injury or disease.

Nerve root : The start of the nerve leaving the spinal cord.

Occupational Therapist : Also known as OTs, are health professionals who help people live independently at home.

Orthopaedic : The division of medicine that deals with problems of the skeleton.

Pelvis : The bone structure at the base of the spine that supports the legs. It consists of the hip bone, sacrum and coccyx.

Sacrum : The solid, flat area at the bottom of the spine that forms the back of the pelvis. It consists of five fused vertebrae.

Sciatica : A pain that runs along the Sciatic nerve, and down the back of the leg.

Scoliosis : A sideways curve of the spine.

Spinal Canal : The running down the length of the spine. It contains the spinal cord.

Spinal Stenosis : A narrowing of the spinal canal. Often putting pressure on the nerves.

Spondylolisthesis : A condition where one vertebra slips out of alignment with another.

Spondylosis : A condition of the spine which results from wear and tear, causing the disks to narrow.


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