Health & Medical Pain Diseases

Understanding Your Diagnosis: A Glossary of Back Pain Terms

Given that there are numerous potential causes of back pain, interpreting symptoms, running tests and arriving at a diagnosis can be a drawn-out process.
Unfortunately for many patients, the process doesn't stop there; they must then attempt to interpret the diagnosis they were given.
It is important to sit down with your doctor and cut through the medical jargon on diagnosis reports so that you have a clear understanding of your situation, since this allows you to explore all of your treatment options.
Whether due to time constraint or lack of thoroughness, many patients are not afforded this crucial time with those who diagnose their conditions.
If possible, it is best to schedule an appointment with your doctor or specialist with sole purpose of interpreting test results.
In lieu of that, it is helpful to have on hand a glossary of terms doctors use to describe back pain conditions.
The following terms may be seen in doctors' reports concerning back pain diagnoses.
Here they have been categorized into directional terms, names of conditions and anatomical parts.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but covers many of the terms you will likely see associated with back pain.
Directional Terms Adjacent: Located nearby Anterior: Ahead of or in the front Cross-section: A transverse cut through a structure Diffuse: Spread over a large area Lateral: Side of the body/part farthest from the center; sideways Longitudinal Section: Cut along the long axis of a structure Paracentral: Near the center Posterior: Behind or in back Superimposed: Located on or over something else Transverse: Situated or lying across; cross Body Parts Cartilage: Tough connective tissue that coats bone ends at joints for protection Cervical: The top 8 vertebrae of the spine in the neck Disc: Separates vertebrae; composed of tough exterior (annular fiber) and gel-like center Facet: Joint that connects vertebrae together Foramen: The space through which nerves exit the spine Ilia: The large bones of the hip (ilium is the singular) Lumbar: The section of the spine in the lower back, composed of 5 vertebrae between the sacrum and the thoracic spine Sacrum: Large triangular bone below the lumbar spine, composed of fused sacral vertebrae Sciatic Nerve: Runs from the lumbar spine to the foot on each side.
Carries motor and sensory information back and forth between the lower body and the brain Spinal Cord: Bundle of nerves that runs within the spinal canal and connects to the brain Thoracic: 12 vertebrae between the lumbar spine and the cervical spine in the mid-back Vertebrae Names: See http://www.
Conditions Acute: Fast onset, short duration Ankylosis: Fusion of a joint Anular Disc Tear: When the tough exterior of an intervertebral disc tears Arthritis: Joint inflammation Bulging Disc: Compression of one side of the disc so that the inner gel is forced to the other side, creating a bulge Chronic: Lasts for a long time Compression: Pressing together Congenital: Present at birth Disc Degeneration: Wearing down of the intervertebral disc Herniated Disc: Rupturing of the intervertebral disc so that the inner gel leaks out Lumbar radiculopathy: Irritation of nerves in the lumbar spine caused by damaged discs Neuralgia: Pain along a nerve pathway Protrusion (of disc): Bulging Sciatica: Pain from irritation of the sciatic nerve Scoliosis: Sideways curvature of the spine Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the space within the spine which results in compression of nerve roots of the spinal cord by bone spurs or tissues such as discs Spondylolisthesis: When a vertebra moves forward in relation to one nearby See http://ehealthforum.
for a perfect example of why people with pain should have access to a glossary of terms.
This inquirer was sent MRI results that would not make sense to anyone outside of the medical profession.
Knowing the terminology is half the battle.
If your doctor will not give you the time to understand his or her findings, a little research will help you.
When it comes to knowing what your treatment options are, more research is required.
If your doctor will not consider various conservative treatment options, find a new doctor.
Pain medication and surgery are rarely the only options.
Get to know your condition and make informed choices about your own treatment.

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