In our chiropractic glossary of terms, we have put together the following chiropractic terms and definitions to help you understand some of the medical talk and conditions that we discuss. Should you ever have any additional questions, just give us a call.


A spring-loaded adjusting instrument that utilizes an extremely rapid pulse to help restore normal functioning in the body.


The practice of applying; pressure on parts of the body to relieve pain.


The practice of inserting fine needles on specific meridian points for the purpose of relieving tension, stress, and pain. Highly useful in the treatment and relief of back pain.


Psychological, emotional, or physical dependence on the effects of a drug.


A form of chiropractic technique involving the application of gentle, yet firm, pressure to a bone. Adjustments employ a high velocity, low amplitude thrust. The goal of any adjustment is to restore the bone to its natural, or original, position.

Adrenal glands:

Small glands located on the kidneys that produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.


A hormone that stimulates metabolism, increases alertness and increases blood pressure.

Aerobic Exercises:

These kinds of exercises generally involve large muscle groups and foster a strong and healthy heart and lung function.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome):

The final and most serious stage of HIV disease, which causes severe damage to the immune system. AIDS begins when a person with HIV infection has a CD4 cell count below 200. (CD4 is also called “T-cell”, a type of immune cell.) AIDS is also defined by numerous opportunistic infections and cancers that occur in the presence of HIV infection. AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death among persons between ages 25 and 44 in the United States.

Alternative Medicine:

The use of various non-drug, non-surgical related therapies. Using natural means of treatment.

Amino acid:

The basic unit from which proteins are made. There are two classes of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be manufactured by the body and must be attained from the diet. Non-essential amino acids are those that the body can synthesize from other amino acids.


The metabolic process of building new tissue. Typically used in relation to building muscle, ligaments and tendons.


Medicines that are used to relieve pain – aspirin is an example.


A physician who specializes in giving drugs or other agents that block, prevent, or relieve pain.

Ankylosing Spondylitis:

A chronic, progressive, rheumatic disease of the spine that causes calcification of the spinal ligaments, resulting in a loss of movement.

Annulus fibrosis:

The tough outer layer of the intervertebral disc. Cartilage-like material formed in a series of rings surrounding the nucleus pulposus (soft center) of a disc.


Inflammation of a joint; most arthritis is caused by degenerative changes related to aging. Arthritis affects not only joints but also connective tissue throughout the body can be involved, as well.

Autonomic nervous system:

The part of the nervous system that is responsible for controlling the involuntary functions in the body, such as digestion, metabolism, blood pressure, etc.

Back Extension:

Backward bending of the spine.

Back Flexion:

Forward bending of the spine.

Bariatric surgery:

Surgery on the stomach and/or intestines to help the patient with extreme obesity lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a last-resort weight-loss method used for people who have a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 40.

Basal energy expenditure (BEE):

Also known as the basal metabolic rate.; The number of calories that your body needs for basic processes such as digestion, breathing, brain function, etc.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA):

A way to estimate the amount of body weight that is fat and nonfat. Nonfat weight comes from bone, muscle, body water, organs, and other body tissues. BIA works by measuring how difficult it is for a harmless electrical current to move through the body. The more fat a person has, the harder it is for electricity to flow through the body. The less fat a person has, the easier it is for electricity to flow through the body. By measuring the flow of electricity, one can estimate body fat percent.

Body composition score (BCS):

A measure that combines body weight, percentage of body fat, waist circumference and hip circumference into one score. The BCS is a more accurate measure of weight loss progress than simply measuring body weight.

Body mass index (BMI):

A measure of body weight relative to height. BMI can be used to determine if people are at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 up to 25 refers to a healthy weight, a BMI of 25 up to 30 refers to overweight and a BMI of 30 or higher refers to obese.


A general term that relates to a wide variety of hands-on therapies, such as massage and some movement therapies.

Bulging Disc:

The annulus portion of the lumbar disc weakens causing the nucleus to press against it resulting in the annulus pinching or pressing against a nerve causing pain.


A condition in which the bursa, or fluid filled sacks that cushion joints, become swollen.


A unit of energy in food. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Proteins have 4 calories per gram. Fat has 9 calories per gram.


A major source of energy in the diet. There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are sugars, while complex carbohydrates include both starches and fiber. Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. They are found naturally in foods such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, and milk and dairy products. Foods such as sugar cereals, soft drinks, fruit drinks, fruit punch, lemonade, cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, and candy are very rich in sugars.

Cardiovascular system:

The system in your body responsible for distributing blood throughout the body. The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, arteries, capillaries and veins.


The metabolic process of breaking down tissues. Typically refers to the breakdown of muscle, bone, ligaments and tendons.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

A progressive and sometimes painful joint disorder caused by a compression of the median nerve of your hand. The compression causes swelling, which exerts pressure on the nerves.


A connective tissue that lines the ends of bones and most joints. It lines the facet joints of the spine.

Cauda equina:

A region at the lower end of the spinal column in which nerve roots branch out in a fashion that resembles a horse’s tail.

Cervical Spine:

The upper portion of your spine; also called the neck.

Chinese Medicine:

The general term to describe the numerous techniques utilized in China for many thousands of years to heal bodily ailments. These may include massage, herbs, acupuncture and Qi Gong.


Comes from the Greek words, “chiro,” meaning hand, and “practic,” meaning practice, or treatment. Chiropractic is a form of health care that focuses primarily on restoring normal position, motion and function in the body’s structures; especially the spine.


Also known as a doctor of chiropractic (D.C.), diagnoses and treats a broad range of physical conditions in patients with muscular, nervous, and skeletal problems, especially the spine.

Chronic Pain:

Pain that has lasted for more than three months generally having significant psychological and emotional affects and limiting a person’s ability to fully function.


A fat-like substance that is made by the body and is found naturally in animal foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Foods high in cholesterol include liver and organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy fats. Cholesterol is carried in the blood. When cholesterol levels are too high, some of the cholesterol is deposited on the walls of the blood vessels. Over time, the deposits can build up causing the blood vessels to narrow and blood flow to decrease. The cholesterol in food, like saturated fat, tends to raise blood cholesterol, which increases the risk for heart disease. Total blood cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dl are considered high. Levels between 200-239 mg/dl are considered borderline high. Levels under 200 mg/dl are considered desirable.


A hormone that is released from the adrenal glands in response to stress that facilitates fat storage and has a catabolic affect on muscle and connective tissue.


The small bone at the lower tip of the spine. Also called the tailbone, a triangular-shaped bone at the bottom of the lumbar area.

Cognitive Restructuring:

A therapy whose emphasis is on learning to recognize and then change, or restructure thought processes, reframing thoughts in less stressful terms. Learning to make molehills out of mountains.

Complementary Medicine:

The use of various non-drug, non-surgical related therapies. Using natural means of treatment.

Compressed Nerve:

Material from a bulging or Herniated disk pushes against a nerve in the spinal cord causing severe pain.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan:

A sophisticated x-ray using a computer to produce a detailed cross-sectional three-dimensional picture of the bone and discs.


Surgery to cut some of the fibers of the spinal cord; used to relieve pain.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy:

A manual therapy focusing on manipulation of the bones in the skull and sacrum.


An enzyme that comes in two forms, I and II. Type I maintains body functions. Type II is associated with the development of inflammation. Aspirin inhibits I and II. COX-2 drugs inhibit Type II only.

Degenerative Arthritis:

The wearing away of cartilage that protects and cushions joints including those in the spine, hands and feet (see Osteoarthritis).

Degenerative Disc Disease:

A general term applied to degeneration of the lumbar spinal discs which serve as cushions between the spinal vertebrae, resulting in a narrowing of the disc space.

Diabetes Mellitus:

A disease that occurs when the body is not able to use blood glucose (sugar). Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone in the body that helps move glucose (sugar) from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body does not respond to the insulin that is made.

Disc Annulus:

The outer lining of a disk (see Annulus Fibrosis).

Disc Nucleus:

The inner core of a disk (see Nucleus Pulposus).


Surgical removal of part or the entire herniated intervertebral disc.


What a person eats and drinks. Any type of eating plan.

Electrical nerve stimulation:

A type of physical therapy treatment that utilizes various frequencies and wave forms of electrical current, which have therapeutic effects on the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.

Electromyography (EMG):

Procedure that tests nerves and muscles providing information to help determine if surgery may be required.


Chemical messengers released by the body during vigorous exercise that stimulate the brain to feel good, happy and relaxed.

Energy expenditure:

The amount of energy, measured in calories, that a person uses. Calories are used by people to breathe, circulate blood, digest food, and be physically active.

Epidural Injection:

Into the spinal column but outside of the spinal cord.


Exercise is physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility and body composition.

Exercise Therapy:

A form of chiropractic treatment used to help manage pain, rehabilitate damaged soft tissues, such as muscles, ligament, and tendons, and restore normal range of motion and function.

Extensor Muscles:

Muscles that cause your joints to straighten, such as the back and gluteus muscles that help keep your back straight.


A major source of energy in the diet. All food fats have 9 calories per gram. Fat helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, and carotenoids. Some kinds of fats, especially saturated fats, [see definition] may cause blood cholesterol to increase and increase the risk for heart disease. Other fats, such as unsaturated fats do not increase blood cholesterol. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids.

Facet joints:

The joints above and below each intervertebral disc, allowing the spine to bend. The paired joints located in the posterior portion of the vertebral bodies connecting the spine. These joints are part of the stabilizing mechanism for the spine.

Facet Joint Syndrome:

Pain resulting from degeneration, wear, pressure exerted on and inflammation of the facet joints, which are the joints at the back of each vertebrae linking the vertebrae together.


A band of connective tissue separating muscles and organs in the body.


Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain in muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.


Pain arising from damaged tendons or muscles.

Foraminal Stenosis:

Narrowing of a vertebral opening.

Flexor Muscles:

The muscles that cause your joints to bend, such as your biceps muscle on the front of your upper arm or your abdominal muscles.

Foraminal Stenosis:

Narrowing of a vertebral opening.


In regard to the spine, a surgical procedure to unite two or more vertebrae with bone graft with or without metal supports resulting in immobilization of that portion.

Gestational diabetes:

A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of her pregnancy, a woman may have glucose (sugar) in her blood at a higher than normal level. In about 95 percent of cases, blood sugar returns to normal after the pregnancy is over. Women who develop gestational diabetes, however, are at risk for developing Type II diabetes later in life.


A hormone released from the stomach and the small intestine that creates the sensation of hunger.


A hormone released from the pancreas that elevates blood sugar by stimulating the release of glucose stores in the liver and muscle.


A building block for most carbohydrates. Digestion causes carbohydrates to break down into glucose. After digestion, glucose is carried in the blood and goes to body cells where it is used for energy or stored.

Glycemic index:

A measure of a food’s ability to raise the body’s blood glucose level. Foods that have a low glycemic index do not raise blood glucose levels to nearly the extent of high glycemic index foods.

Golfer’s Elbow:

A type of elbow pain that originates near the inside part of the bony protrusion. This type of pain is also caused by a tear or rupture in the tendon supporting the elbow bone.

Healthy Weight:

As compared to overweight or obese, a body weight that is less likely to be linked with any weight-related health problems such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or others. A person with a body fat percentage between 18% – 22% (depending on age) are considered to be at a healthy weight.

Heat Therapy:

A form of therapy often used in patients who have chronic, or long-lasting pain. Heat therapy can involve many kinds of methods, from simple heating pads, wraps, and warm gel packs, to sophisticated techniques such as therapeutic ultrasound. While ice therapy is used to reduce swelling, heat therapy is used to relax the muscles and increase circulation. Both kinds of therapy help reduce pain.

Herniated Disc:

A disc that protrudes from its normal position between two vertebrae, due to an injury to the annulus; frequently associated with the nucleus of the disc oozing out of the center of the disk.

High blood pressure:

See Hypertension.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL):

A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called “good” cholesterol. High HDL lowers the risk of heart disease. An HDL of 60 mg/dl or greater is considered high and is protective against heart disease. An HDL less than 40 mg/dl is considered low and increases the risk for developing heart disease.

Hip circumference:

A measurement of the hips, including the widest portion of the buttocks, used in conjunction with the waist circumference, body weight and percent body fat to calculate the body composition score.


A resting blood pressure that is greater than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg. Hypertension is associated with an increasee risk of heart disease and stroke.


A small area of the brain that is a main control center for regulating eating and sleeping behavior in humans. It has binding sites for several hormones including ghrelin and leptin.

Ice Massage:

A form of therapy involving the application of ice to treat many kinds of injuries, including those associated with back or neck pain. Ice causes the veins in the affected tissue area to constrict. This reduces the flow of blood while acting as kind of anesthetic to numb the pain. But when the ice is removed, the veins compensate by opening large, allowing a large volume of blood to rush to the affected area. The blood brings with it important chemicals that aid in the healing process.

Instrument Adjustment:

A form of chiropractic adjustment using a spring-loaded device called an Activator.

Interferential Current (IFC):

A form of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy in which high-frequency electrical impulses are introduced deep into the tissues near the center of the pain.

Ideal body weight:

The weight that your body would be if you had a 20% body fat. Calculated by multiplying your current lean body mass by 1.2.


A method of pain relief that uses mental images produced by memory or imagination.


A hormone in the body that helps move glucose from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Insulin controls blood sugar levels.


A pathologic process associated with redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. This process destroys tissues but is also associated with the repair and healing of body structures.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

A condition that is characterized by a combination of abdominal pain and altered bowel function.


The study of muscles and their relation to movement and pain relief.


Normal curve of the thoracic spine. Also describes an excess curvature of the thoracic spine called a “dowager’s hump.” This is a common occurrence in people with osteoporosis.


A surgical procedure that removes a portion of the plate that serves as the back of the spinal canal. This decompression procedure is performed for treatment of herniated intervertebral discs and spinal stenosis.


A hormone produced by the small intestine that signals the brain to stop eating. People who are overweight will often have a diminished leptin response in the brain.


Strong, dense bands made of connective tissue that stabilize a joint, connecting bone to bone across the joint.


Compounds of protein that carry fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol, in the blood.

Local anesthetics:

Drugs that block nerve conduction in the region where it is applied.


The curve in the cervical and lumbar spine. An abnormal accentuated arch in the lower back swayback.

Low back pain:

Pain at the base of the spine that can be caused by several factors.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL):

A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called “bad” cholesterol. High LDL increases the risk of heart disease. An LDL less than 100 mg/dl is considered optimal,100-129 mg/dl is considered near or above optimal, 130-159 mg/dl is considered borderline high, 160-189 mg/dl is considered high, and 190 mg/dl or greater is considered very high.


A general term meaning low back pain (See Low Back Pain).


The lower five weight bearing vertebrae that are located between the thoracic vertebrae and the sacrum.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):

Magnetic radio frequency energy used to see internal structures of the body, including bone, discs, and nerves without the use of x-rays. Overall, the most useful technique in the investigation of spinal abnormalities.


Manual movement of the spinal bones or joints to restore normal function.

Massage Therapy:

A general term to describe various bodywork techniques.

Maximum heart rate:

A person’s maximum heart rate is based on their age. An estimate of a person’s maximum age-related heart rate can be obtained by subtracting the person’s age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum heart rate would be calculated as: 220 – 50 = 170 beats per minute. The maximum heart rate is important for measuring whether exercise is classified as moderate-intensity (50% – 70% of maximum) or vigorous-intensity (70% – 85% of maximum).


A general term for numerous practices where one focuses awareness on one thing such as breath or a short phrase in order to quiet the mind.


All of the processes that occur in the body that turn the food you eat into energy your body can use.

Moderate-Intensity Physical Activity:

To be classified as moderate-intensity, physical activity generally requires sustained, rhythmic movements of an intense enough level to elevate heart rate to 50% – 70% of maximum heart rate. A person should feel some exertion but should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably during the activity.

Monounsaturated fat:

Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fat is found in canola oil, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Eating food that has more monounsaturated fat instead of saturated fat may help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. However, it has the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.

Muscle Tension:

A state where the muscles are in a general state of contraction.

Muscle Spasm:

A sudden violent involuntary contraction of a muscle or a group of muscles. A muscle spasm is attended by pain and interference with function, producing involuntary movement and distortion.


Soft tissues that provide strength and assist with motor ability, or movement. Spinal muscles support your spine as it bends and flexes.

Myofascial Pain:

Referred pain caused by trigger points, or hard nodules in muscle tissue.

Myofascial Release:

Releasing the fascia (the sheath around a muscle) by gentle movements.


Pain relieving drug related in action and structure to the opiates. A powerful pain-relieving drug associated with potential to cause significant alteration of mood and dependence following repeated administration.


The body’s communication system; nerves carry messages back and forth between the brain and all body parts.

Nerve Block:

Pain relief method in which an anesthetic is injected into a nerve.

Nerve roots:

Nerve projections from the spinal cord.


A physician who specializes in treating diseases of the nervous system.

Neuropeptide Y:

Is the key hunger transmitter in the brain. It signals the hypothalamus to eat. The action of neuropeptide Y is the opposite of that of leptin.


A physician who specializes in surgery on the brain, nerves, and spinal cord.


A chemical produced in the brain that sends messages between nerve cells.

Nucleus pulposus:

Soft center of an intervertebral disc, made up of gel-like substance.


The relationship of food to the well-being of the body.


Having an excessive amount of body fat. A person is considered obese if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater.

Oleylethanolamine (OEA):

A fatty acid found in some foods that sends a strong signal to the brain to stop eating. A powerful satiety factor and appetite suppressant.


Pain-killing drug chemically related to opium; also called a narcotic (see Narcotics).

Orthopedic Surgeon:

A doctor who specializes in diseases of the musculoskeletal system.


Also called “degenerative arthritis” mostly affecting middle-aged and elderly men and women. In some, osteoarthritis may affect the spine’s facet joints, making it extremely painful to bend or twist. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down and away from the joints. Stripped of their protective material, the joints begin rubbing against each other, causing pain and impeding movement. This action further irritates the surrounding nerves. Advanced forms of spinal osteoarthritis lead to disc collapse and other problems.

Osteopathic Medicine:

Particular attention is paid to muscles, joints, bones, and nerves through defined osteopathic manipulations.


A disease characterized by the loss of bone density, resulting in brittleness; most commonly affecting the spinal vertebrae, wrists and hips.


Additional bone material, or overgrowths, that have been attributed to a wide variety of ailments. Also called bone spurs, osteophytes are manufactured by your body in response to a breakdown in existing bony structures. Sometimes, bone spurs can exert pressure on nerves, and this leads to pain.

Overload principle:

Strength training term that refers to the phenomenon that muscles only grow in strength if they are pushed to near maximum effort – overloaded.

Overuse injuries:

Injuries that occur during the course of everyday activities, such as housework or exercise. Symptoms may include pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness.


Carrying too much body fat. (see Obesity)


A gland that makes enzymes that help the body break down and use nutrients in food. It also produces the hormones insulin and glucagon, releasing these into the bloodstream to help the body control blood sugar levels.


A small device that counts each step taken, total distance walked, or other related measures. It is usually worn on the waistband or in a pocket.

Piriformis syndrome:

A condition caused by the sciatic nerve getting pinched as it exits the spinal column. (Sometimes, it can mimic the symptoms of sciatica.) The pinching is sometimes caused by muscles spasms. Piriformis syndrome sometimes causes pain along the back of the thigh to the knee, or loss of feeling in the soles of the feet.

Plantar fasciitis:

Inflammation of the ligament running from the front of the heel bone through the bottom of the foot. Repetitive motions such as quick stops and starts during sports, or long distance running, have sometimes been associated with Plantar fasciitis.

Phenylethanolamine (PEA):

A chemical found in chocolate that elevates mood. It is thought to be the compound that causes chocolate cravings.

Physical activity:

Any form of exercise or movement. Physical activity may include planned activity such as walking, running, basketball, or other sports. Physical activity may also include other daily activities such as household chores, yard work, walking the dog, etc.

Physical fitness:

The measure of a person’s ability to perform physical activities that require endurance, strength, or flexibility and is determined by a combination of regular activity and genetically inherited ability.

Physical Therapy:

The health profession that treats pain in muscles, nerves, joints, and bones with exercise, electrical stimulation, hydrotherapy, and the use of massage, heat, cold, and electrical devices.

Polyunsaturated Fat:

A highly unsaturated fat that is liquid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are found in greatest amounts in corn, soybean, and safflower oils, and many types of nuts. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.


One of the three nutrients that provides calories to the body. Protein is an essential nutrient that helps build many parts of the body, including muscle, bone, skin, and blood. Protein provides 4 calories per gram and is found in foods like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts, and tofu.

(No Entries)

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA):

The level of dietary intake of essential nutrients considered to be sufficient to meet the minimum nutritional needs of most healthy individuals.

Relaxation Techniques:

A natural process that can be learned by anyone to reverse the effects of stress on the body’s physiology. Methods used to lessen tension, reduce anxiety, and manage pain.

Repetitions or “Reps”:

Refers to a single full execution of an exercise movement. For example, one repetition of a push-up involves beginning with your arms straight, lowering your body to the floor and returning to the starting position. The number of repetitions you perform of a particular exercise will determine the type of benefit to your muscles. Higher weights with lower repetitions will increase strength. Lower weights with higher repetitions will increase endurance.


This term encompasses virtually every aspect of what you do in an exercise session, including: the exercises, reps and sets you do of strength training, aerobic conditioning, the order in which you perform the exercises, the length of time spent. To keep workouts interesting, many people change their routine from time to time. Your routine is also referred to as your “program” or your “workout.”

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

An inflammatory disease that affects the facet joints in the spine as well as other joints in the body including the hands, elbows, shoulders, fingers and toes.

Ruptured Disk:

Herniated disk where material from the disk pushes through the outer lining of the disk.


A mechanism to tell the body that it has had enough food. The most important satiety compounds are the hormone leptin and the fatty acid oleylethanolamine (OEA).

Saturated Fat:

A fat that is solid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids. Saturated fat is found in high-fat dairy products (like cheese, whole milk, cream, butter, and regular ice cream), fatty fresh and processed meats, the skin and fat of chicken and turkey, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. Eating a diet high in saturated fat also raises blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.

Sciatic Nerve:

The nerve that serves the legs and originates from several levels of the lower back. Formed by multiple nerve roots from the lumbar spine; the sciatic nerve sends signals down the leg to control muscles and up the leg to provide sensations.


An inflammation of the sciatic nerve usually marked by tenderness along the course of the nerve through the buttocks, thigh, and leg.


An abnormal curve of the spine.


A person who engages in little to no leisure-time physical activity.


A neurotransmitter in the brain that elevates mood and decreases appetite.


A set is a group of repetitions that you perform without rest. For example, if you do ten repetitions of a bench press and then place the bar back on the rack and rest, you have just completed one set. For strength training, most people do three sets of a particular exercise, 10 – 15 repetitions in each set, and a one minute rest between each set.

Slipped Disk:

Herniated disk where material from the disk pushes through the outer lining of the disk (see Disc Herniation).

Spina Bifida:

A congenital defect of the spine in which the arches of the lower lumbar spine fail to form over the spinal cord, leaving the cord unprotected.

Spinal Canal:

The opening at the center of the spine through which the spinal cord runs.

Spinal Cord:

The root section of the central nervous system going down from the brain through the spinal column, where it divides into nerves.

Spinal Column:

The spine.

Spinal Fracture:

Broken vertebrae in the spine.

Spinal Cord:

The column of nerve tissue that runs from the brain to the lower back.

Spinal Fusion:

A process in which the disc and cartilage is removed from between the vertebrae, and bone grafts (often harvested from the pelvis) are placed between or alongside the vertebrae to join the bones together.

Spinal Stenosis:

A narrowing of the spinal canal, that compresses the spinal cord and/or the nerve roots, cutting off their impulses to the muscles of the leg.


A group of disorders that causes inflammatory arthritis of the spine.


Inflammation of the spine generally caused by an infection.


A spinal abnormality in which there is an anterior displacement of a vertebra on the one below, often resuting in back pain.

Starvation metabolism:

The slowing of the basal energy expenditure caused by chronic underfeeding, leading to a reduction in the rate at which the body burns calories and an increase in the rate at which the body attempts to store fat.


Narrowing of a portion of the spinal canal, usually because of bony overgrowth (see Spinal Stenosis).

Strength Training:

This helps you tone muscles and lose fat. It also helps to keep your bones keep your bones strong-which helps you avoid fractures as your bones weaken with age.


A misalignment in the bony structures of the spine. Subluxations can create pressure or irritation on the various nerves in your spine, and can cause a wide variety of symptoms throughout your body, such as localized pain, soreness, irregularity, and weakness. When pressure is applied on a nerve in your spine, the nerve energy is interrupted, and sometimes this can profoundly affect the function of other systems or organs in your body.


White fibrous bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone.

Tennis Elbow:

Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow is pain on the lateral, or outside part of the elbow, on or near the bony protrusion. It is usually caused by the overuse of the wrist extensor muscles, which leads to the inflammation of the tendon attachment.

Therapeutic Massage:

A form of massage that involves the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to decrease muscle spasm, pain and to improve movement.

Thoracic Spine:

Twelve vertebrae above the lumbar spine and below the cervical spine.

Thyroid hormone:

A hormone released by the thyroid gland that stimulates metabolism and helps to regulate a range of biochemical processes in the body.


Decreasing effect of a drug with the same dose or the need to increase the dose to maintain the same effect.


A drug used to treat anxiety.

Trigger Point Therapy:

The application of pressure on tender trigger points in the muscles to relieve pain and tension.

Trigger Points:

A generally small area of a muscle that is tightly knotted and in spasm causing referred pain.

Underwater Weighing:

A research method for estimating body fat. A person is placed in a tank, underwater, and weighed. By comparing weight underwater with weight on land, one can get a very good measure of body fat.

Unsaturated Fat:

A fat that is liquid at room temperature. Vegetable oils are unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. Sources of unsaturated fats include most nuts, olives, avocados, and fatty fish such as salmon.


The 24 cylindrical segments of bone that make up the vertebral column.

Vertebral Column:

The Spine. The flexible structure that forms the “backbone” of the skeleton, arranged a straight line from the base of the skull to the tailbone; also called spine.

Vertebral Subluxation Complex:

Another term for subluxation that is used in the chiropractic profession.

Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity:

To be classified as vigorous-intensity, physical activity requires sustained, rhythmic movements of an intense enough level to elevate heart rate to 70% – 85% of maximum heart rate. Vigorous-intensity physical activity may be intense enough to represent a substantial challenge to an individual, resulting in a significant increase in heart rate and respiration.

Waist Circumference:

A measurement of the waist. Fat around the waist increases the risk of obesity-related health problems.

Weight Control:

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by eating well and getting regular physical activity.


Losing and gaining weight over and over again. Commonly called “yo-yo” dieting. With each cycle, there is a worsening of the percentage of body fat due to a loss of lean muscle tissue.


An injury to the cervical spine that occurs from rapid hyper-flexion, hyper-extension and compression movements, such as in an automobile accident.

Wrist Circumference:

A measurement of the wrist at its thinnest point, just proximal to the hand, that is used to estimate the size of an individual’s overall skeletal structure.


A diagnostic imaging method that exposes photographic films with radiation passed through the body. It is most useful in diagnosing fractures, dislocations, abnormal positioning or other structural problems in bone.


A gentle exercise system consisting of numerous stretching movements that is extremely helpful in healing.