Medical Terms Glossary

Acupuncture: The practice of inserting needles into the body to reduce pain or induce anesthesia. Incorporating eastern medical traditions, the needles are manipulated manually or by electric stimulation to unblock or otherwise redirect the flow of energy throughout the body.

Eczema: A type of inflammatory reaction of the skin in which there is reddening, swelling, bumps, and crusting of the skin followed by thickening and scaling of the skin. Eczema normally causes itching and burning of the skin.

Herbalism: Sometimes referred to as botanical medicine, herbalism is one of the earliest recognized systems of medicine. It involves treating certain medical conditions by making or prescribing plant-based herbal remedies. Practitioners of herbalism can be licensed MDs, naturopaths or osteopaths.

Holistic Medicine: The concept of treating the whole body, physically, emotionally and spiritually in the management and prevention of disease. It is considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine or complementary to Western medicine. Practices such as naturopathy, homeopathy, and herbal treatments fall under the category of  holistic medicine.

Neurosurgery: It is surgery of the nervous system. Specifically, the medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of of patients with injury to, or disease of the brain, spinal cord and spinal column, and peripheral nerves within all parts of the body.

Occupational Therapist: A licensed health professional who is trained to evaluate patients with joint conditions, such as arthritis, to assess the impact of the disease on their daily activities. Occupational therapists can design and prescribe assistive devices that can improve the quality of the activities of daily living for patients with arthritis and other conditions of the muscles and joints.

Orthopedics: The branch of surgery that deals with  the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic surgeons are devoted to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Orthotic: A support, brace, or splint used to align, prevent, or correct the function of movable parts of the body. Shoe inserts are orthotics that are intended to correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern by altering the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface. Other orthotics include neck braces, lumbosacral supports, knee braces, and cranial headbands.

Plagiocephaly: Also know as flat head syndrome, plagiocephaly is a condition characterized by an asymmetrical distortion (flattening of one side) of the skull resulting in an abnormal head shape. It is often caused by remaining in a supine position for extended periods.

Physical Therapy: A branch of rehabilitative medicine that uses specially designed exercises and equipment to help patients regain or improve their physical abilities. PT is commonly used to treat patients suffering from the after effects of injury or surgery as well as elderly post-stroke patients.

Phototherapy: Treatment with light. Phototherapy is  the use of ultraviolet (UV) light to aid skin healing. It has been used worldwide for nearly a century to treat chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis, vitiligo and severe eczema.

Rosacea: A chronic skin disease that causes persistent redness over the areas of the face and nose that normally blush: mainly the forehead, the chin, and the lower half of the nose. The tiny blood vessels in these areas enlarge and become more visible through the skin, appearing like tiny red lines. It occurs most often between the ages of 30 and 60, especially in people with fair skin.

Sciatica: Pain that comes from irritation of the sciatic nerve and usually radiates from the buttock to the back of the thigh. Although it can result from a herniated disc pressing directly on the nerve, any cause of inflammation of this nerve can reproduce the painful symptoms of sciatica. Treatment options include avoiding movements that further irritate the condition, use of medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.

Spinal Stenosis: The narrowing of the spinal canal. Spinal stenosis is most commonly caused by degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. The result is compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or soft tissues, such as discs, in the spinal canal. It commonly occurs in the lower back (lumbar spine) but can also occur in the neck (cervical spine) and less frequently in the upper back (thoracic spine). The symptoms vary depending on the location and on the nerve tissues being irritated. If symptoms of spinal stenosis are mild, physicians usually prescribe medications to relieve inflammation, using mechanical supports, and doing back exercises to relieve the nerve irritation. When symptoms are severe,  surgical resection of the bone and soft tissues that are impinging on the nerves and/or spinal cord can be helpful.

Vascular: Relating to blood vessels. For example, the vascular system in the body includes all of the veins and arteries. And, a vascular surgeon is an expert at evaluating and treating problems of the veins and arteries.

Venous Disease: A disease or affliction relating to or contained in the veins.

Varicose Veins:  Varicose and spider veins are common conditions in which abnormally enlarged vessels, which affect women more often than men, appear most often on the legs and become more prevalent with age. Varicose and spider veins affect up to 50% of the adult population.

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