Glossary of Terms

Derived in part with the help of Stedman's Medical Dictionary, published in 1976 by the Williams and Wilkins Company, and the Random House Dictionary, published in 1966 (as The Random House Dictionary of the English Language)



The motion of the arm away from the body; movement away from the midline.
The coming together of the acromion bone (part of the scapula or wing bone) and the clavicle (collar bone), which together make a joint. It forms the small joint on the top of the shoulder and one of the four "joints" in the shoulder complex.
The process by which a muscle is made active; made to move using a voluntary force.
The type of motion in which your muscles voluntarily create movement across a joint.
The motion of the arm toward the body; movement toward the midline or across the body.
The bands of more or less organized fibrinous (stringy, spider web-like, rubbery) tissue that pathologically forms between opposing/ adjacent sur- faces of a joint.
Having to do with emotion, feeling, sensibility, or mental state.
The operative procedure performed to maximally restore the integrity and functional power of a joint.
The rubbery, delicate, malleable, smooth, lubricating and cushiony substance that lines the ends of bones at every joint in the human body. It provides smooth, frictionless movement between the two bones of a joint.

There are no nerve endings or blood vessels in articular cartilage. It relies on the fluid in the joint for nutrition. If articular cartilage is torn, split, cut, thinned, dam- aged, loose, fragmented, or shredded, it can lead to pain and dysfunction. When it is altered from age, disease, or trauma, it acts as a mechanical irritant and leads to inflammation.
To join or connect together loosely to allow motion between parts.
A state or condition of the body that represents stability and equilibrium. On having a good sense of balance can lessen the likelihood of slipping, tripping, or falling.
A hard connective tissue consisting of cells embedded in a matrix of mineralized ground substance (calcium is main substance) and collagen fibers.
A closed sac, containing fluid and lined with a synovia-like membrane. Bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that help bring about less friction as a tendon or ligament slides over bone.
The soft-tissue, tough, fibrous sack that surrounds a joint and helps with lubrication and nutrition of the soft tissues and structures within a joint. The capsule provides static stability to a joint.
The surgical procedure of suturing (sewing together) a tear in the capsule, repairing the labral tissues. This is achieved through plication (folding) of the tissues together or securing the soft tissues torn from the bone back onto the bone. The procedure restores the stabilizing components of the soft tissues around the glenohumeral joint.
A connective tissue in the body characterized by its limited vascularity (few vessels within it) and firm consistency.
A generic term embracing the quality of knowing, including perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, judging, sensing, reasoning, and imagining.
The name of the major protein found in the white fibers that connect structures in the human body.
The conscious tendency to act with a sense of impulse, desire, and purposive. The act of striving or making an effort, usually conscious or unwilled, by natural active force.
A type of muscle con-traction, opposite of eccentric. In this type of muscle contraction, the bones move closer together and the muscle gets shorter. It is controlled muscle-shortening while holding a weighted object.
A particular state of disorder within or about a joint, leading to improper function. (This definition goes with the 'injury' category when browsing exercises).
Working the muscle to endure daily repetitive tasks without fatigue or risk of damaging joints.
Shortening or an increase in the tension of a muscle.
A modality that uses ice and/or cold to diminish warmth, swelling and/or pain. It is the use of cold in the treatment of joint disease.
A surgical term meaning to excise (remove) contused (bruised) or devitalized (dead) tissue from an injured site (the joint). It is performed in an effort to stabilize partially torn, stretched out, damaged, or frayed soft tissues. The goal of a debridement is to stabilize unstable tissues and to clean out inflamed areas and/or scar tissues within a joint.
To be in a bodily state of having muscles that cannot work long enough to endure daily repetitive tasks without experiencing fatigue or feeling joint pain.
The area situated away from the center of the body; the part of an extremity furthest from the trunk of the body.
Something in motion (the opposite of static).
A type of muscle contraction, opposite of concentric. In this type of muscle contraction, the bones move further apart and the muscle gets longer. It is controlled muscle-lengthening while holding a weighted object.

An eccentric injury is an injury that occurs when the muscle is forced into a longer state while it is trying to control the contraction. An eccentric overload injury is a common way to damage soft tissue. With this type of injury mechanism, ligaments, muscles, tendons, and/or capsules can over-stretch, partially tear, or rupture. Eccentric exercises help with joint stability and proprioception, and are the type of contraction that generates muscle strength the fastest.
Having the ability to maintain similar muscle work over a period of time; appropriate conditioning leads to better endurance.
The extra bone formation or growth that occurs at the edges of normal bone. It is a bodily reaction to a ligament or tendon pulling on its bony insertion site. An entheseophyte can form after repetitive stress across the soft tissues, or after traumatic stretching to these structures. They occur at the area where ligaments, tendons, and/or joint capsules attach to the bone. If an entheseophyte is present, it can lead to mechanical irritation within the joint, causing inflammation.
It is the act of bringing the distal portion of a joint in continuity with the long axis of the proximal portion (like making the knee/elbow straight, or moving the shoulder directly behind the body).
Rotary motion of the leg (or hand) toward the outside of the body. It is motion to a place farther from the center. With a straight leg, it is achieved by rotating the foot toward the outside. With a straight arm, it is achieved by rotating the hand toward the outside. As an example, this is the first part of the arm motion of putting on a coat.
Relating to the part of the knee joint involving the femur and the tibia.
The upper leg bone. The longest and strongest bone in the human body. The femoral condyles are the convex (rounded, knuckle-like) parts of the lower end of the femur bone, found on the inner aspect (medial) and outer aspect (lateral) of the end of the femur. The condyles are connected in front by the trochlea. The trochlea, which forms the front of the end of the femur bone, contacts the patella during knee motion. The end of the femur forms the upper part of the tibiofemoral aspect of the knee joint.
A variety of cartilage that has visible collagen fibers within it.
The formation of fibrous tissue, usually as a reparative or reactive process (typically after trauma). It can lead to stiffness, tightness, clicking, and/or catching of a joint.
The lateral and smaller of the two bones of the leg. It articulates with the tibia superiorly and the talus (main ankle bone) inferiorly.
Permitting the muscles, tendons and ligaments to have the ability to lengthen without reaching the point of tearing or becoming overstretched.
It is the act of bringing the distal portion of a joint away from the long axis of the proximal portion (like making the knee/elbow bent, or moving the shoulder directly in front of the body, up toward the sky).
This is the kind of action or activity proper to anything. Good joint or bodily function gives a person the ability to perform all activities desired without the feeling of pain.
The medical term describing the main joint in the shoulder, a ball-and-socket joint. The glenoid is the "socket" cavity and the humerus the "ball," of the glenohumeral joint.
The concave articular depression of the scapula bone that acts as the socket for the head of the humeral bone. It makes up half of the glenohumeral joint.
The state of equilibrium (the balance between opposing pressures) in the body with respect to various functions, as well as the chemical compositions of its fluids and tissues. The group of processes through which the body maintains equilibrium.
The convex part of the humeral bone, which acts as the ball in the glenoid socket. It is the other half of the glenohumeral joint.
The upper arm bone. It is made up of a head, neck, and shaft, and is found between the scapula (wing bone) and radius and ulna (forearm).
A state or condition of the body that lacks stability or equilibrium. Those with imbalance have a greater likelihood of slipping, tripping or falling.
Below in relation to another structure.
A fundamental pathologic process, consisting of a dynamic complex of cytologic and histologic reactions that occur in the affected blood vessels and adjacent tissues in response to an injury or abnormal stimulation. A complex localized response to foreign or internally produced substances. Any combination of physical, chemical, or biologic agents can cause inflammation. It is characterized by redness (rubor), warmth (calor), swelling (tumor), and pain (dolor). In some cases, it can lead to loss of function (functio laesa).
Sustaining a loss of function or damage to a bodily part or joint.
The motion of the arm (or foot) in rotatory fashion toward the inside of the body. It is a motion away from the surface. As examples, internal rotation includes reaching into the back pocket of your pants and fastening a brassiere from behind.
An exercise and/or activity involving direct resistance to movement that allows for muscle contraction without motion. The muscle has an increase in tension without a change in muscle length.
An exercise and/or activity involving motion of a joint with resistance, in which the muscle contracts and creates movement. The muscle fibers change length (become longer or shorter) during the activity.
The coming together of two or more bones to permit movement of the bones across one another. A joint is usually made up of bones, the surface of the bones, and the soft tissues that surround the bones. A joint is held together with a synovial lining, capsular tissues, fibrous soft tissues, ligaments and muscles and/or tendons. In addition, there are nerves and blood vessels in and around a joint.
The lip-shaped structure formed as a thickening of the capsule in the glenohumeral joint around the edge of the glenoid socket. It is a ring of fibrocartilage or fibrous connective tissue and it increases the depth of the glenoid cavity. This increases the surface area of the glenoid and helps to increase the stability of the glenohumeral joint.
Relating to the outside, or further from the center of the body.
The soft-tissue, fibrous attachment from one bone to another bone. They are the small "ropes" that stabilize a joint when it is not in motion.
The act of excising (removing) soft tissue structures such as pathologic fibrous tissue, scar tissue bands or sheets of overgrown soft tissue in and around joints.
Keeping the joints in an unimpaired, pain-free state of function. Maintained joints allow a person to continue to live a pain-free, active lifestyle.
Relating to the middle or towards the center of the body.
A thin sheet or layer of pliable tissue that serves as a covering or envelope of a part, the lining of a cavity (like a joint), as a partition or septum, or a connection between two structures.
The cushions or washers between the femur and tibia bones of the knee. A crescent-shaped intra-articular fibrocartilage that is triangular in cross-section. Each knee has an inner (medial) and outer (lateral) meniscus. The outer border is thicker than the inner border, and each meniscus lays flat on the tibial plateau. The top aspect is concave and is in contact with the femoral condyle. The meniscus helps deepen the articular surfaces of the tibial plateau, increasing the contact surface between the tibia and femur. It cushions the joint, works as a shock absorber, helps stabilize the joint, and lubricates the joint to help move fluid during activity and motion.
A therapeutic method or agent that involves the physical treatment of a disorder.
The act of making movement across a joint.
Achieving and maintaining the ability for joints to easily change position in space; exhibiting a complete/full range of joint motion.
The soft tissue structure that, when stimulated, moves a joint in space; a contractile tissue that moves the extremities.
The medical specialty concerned with the preservation, restoration, and development of form and function of the bones, muscles, and joints of the human body. It is the term pertaining to the treatment of the bones and joints of the human body.
An extra bone growth formation or outcropping of bone that occurs within a joint, but without attachment to soft tissues. Osteophytes can cause mechanical irritation within the joint and can lead to inflammation and reactive scar tissue formation.
Suffering, either physical or mental. It arises of from an impression on the sensory nerves, which causes distress. It is perceived as many different types of feelings.
The motion that is performed without the muscles contracting (moving). This motion can be performed by the patient and an object (wall, table, broom handle, umbrella, other extremity, etc.) or by the actions of another person. If somebody takes your arm (or leg) and moves it in space while you are relaxed, that is a passive motion. In addition, if you use a table to support your arm, and then bend your knees, the arm will move passively (without the use of the muscles around the arm).
The largest sesamoid bone in the body. It is found within the quadriceps tendon upper part of the tibia (the tibial tuberosity) by the patella tendon. The patella glides over the trochlea of the femur during knee motion.
Relating to the part of the knee joint involving the patella and the femur.
The awareness or consciousness of something. The mental process of becoming aware of or recognizing an object or feeling from a physical source. The process is primarily cognitive rather than affective or conative, although it manifests all three aspects. When the nerves bring the signal of perception back to your brain, you feel pain and react to it.
Keeping the joints in a state that protects them from harm, injury or damage. Preserved joints allow a person to stay active and independent in their daily activities, while experiencing as little joint pain as possible.
The position of facing down- ward (opposite of supine).
One of six senses within the body. It is the 'joint position' sense or body awareness. It is a sense of knowing where your shoulder is in relation to your body position and within your surroundings, without seeing it. It is being able to tell that someone is moving your body and where it is in space without actually looking at it. Proprioceptive sense allows you to sense a ball coming towards you and to quickly reach up to catch it. This is an important sense that needs to be re-trained after joint surgery.
The process of using the muscles to move bones away from each other, lengthening the space between them. The opposite of retraction.
Assuming a 'four-legged' posture; a position when one is resting on their knees and hands, having their back forming a 'table'.
Reaching an improved and increased state of functional joint health, by means of effort. Regaining joint function permits an active lifestyle while minimizing joint pain.
The process of using the muscles to move bones towards each other, shortening the space between them. The opposite of protraction.
The action that turns an object around an axis or center point.
An abduction motion that is not straight out to the side but rather 20 degrees from the frontal plane (20 degrees forward from straight out to the side). It is the angle in line with the glenoid cavity's angle. This specific positional motion places less stress on the joint during upward motion (abduction).
The coming together of the scapula (wing bone) and the rib cage (thorax). It is not a true joint, but a close approximation of bones and soft tissues that connect them. It is one of four 'joints' of the shoulder complex, and allows easy and smooth movement of the wing bone (scapula) over the rib cage (thorax).
The formed nodule of bone found within tendons as they rub over bony surfaces. Most of the sesamoid is covered by tendon and a smaller part is covered by articular cartilage.
To cause to move across a plane of contact (two objects moving along the same plane but in different directions, causing a force between them).
Something not in motion or not moving (the opposite of dynamic).
Having the ability to exert bodily or muscular power. Strength permits a person to create work or a physical force.
Increasing the quality of muscle fibers so they can create more force.
Performing a motion activity that lengthens the muscle and tendon and increases pliability; increasing resistance to traumatic failure.
Above in relation to another structure.
The position of facing upwards (opposite of prone).
The invasive act of entering a joint in order to determine, describe, and document what the joint looks like from the inside. In addition, joint surgery is performed as an attempt to restore anatomy, increase function and diminish pain within a joint. This is done by stabilizing, removing, repairing, replacing, or augmenting damaged structures.
Joint oil; a clear, thick, viscus liquid that lubricates a joint, tendon sheath, or bursa.
A kind of joint surrounded and lubricated by synovial lining. Allows the bones to move over one another with little resistance or friction.
The lining of a joint cavity, extending from the margin of one articular cartilage to those of the other.
The soft-tissue, fibrous structure that attaches muscle to bone.
The implantation of a tendon, or the transferring of a tendon to a new point of attachment. A tendon is cut and then secured and/or stabilized to a non-anatomical area. This is typically done with the biceps tendon; it is cut and then secured into the proximal humerus.
The cutting of a tendon, most often done with the biceps tendon. The long head of the biceps tendon (it has two heads/attachment sites to the bone) is cut and excised (removed). This is performed to alleviate the pain-producing elements of a torn biceps tendon, one not amenable to debridement, reattachment, or repair.
Relating to the amount that something can stretch or be stretched without breaking.
The condition of a muscle when it is stretched or strained (put to work).
The lower leg bone, made up of a medial condyle, lateral condyle, and an intercondylar region. Its surface is called the tibial plateau. The tibia forms the lower part of the tibiofemoral aspect of the knee joint. It articulates with the fibula a short distance below the tibial plateau.
The part of the tibia bone at the very top, lined with articular cartilage. It forms a shape resembling a table and articulates with the femoral condyles.
Relating to the part of the knee joint involving the tibia and the femur.
Working the muscle to make it firmer; increasing ability to protect a joint during the micro-trauma of life.
The process that pulls or draws bones of a joint away from each other.
An injury caused by rough contact with a physical object. It can come from a repetitive action or a single, forceful occurrence.