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Medicine has its own vocabulary with some words taking their roots from ancient Latin.  To help make things easier to understand, we’ve put together a comprehensive medical dictionary of words you might find popping up along the way in your search for answers.  If there is a specific word or term you are unable to find here – please email us directly at and we’ll do our best to give you an answer and make sure it gets added.


Ablation procedure used in pain management to interupt a nerve’s ability to transmit pain; can be performed with radiowaves (RFA) or chemically (alcohool neurolysis)
Acetominophen central acting pain reliever; broken down in the liver; maximum in most people is 4 grams; excessive intake can be harmful to the liver
Achiilles Tendon thick, fibrous band of connective tissue responsible for connecting the gastrocnemius (calf muscle) to the heel
Achilles Tendonitis refers to an inflammation of the achillies tendon; common in athletes; tends to resolve with conservative treatment (i.e. Physical Therapy and NSAID’s)
ACL see Anterior Cruciate Ligament
Acromioclavical Joint small joint/junction between the acromion of the scapula and the clavicle (collar bone); shoulder separation is when this joint becomes disrupted or disconnected
Acute Pain pain lasting less than 6 months; new or recent onset pain, typically resolves with conservative therapy
Adhesive Capsulitis also known as Frozen Shoulder; painful and disabling disorder of the shoulder with no clear cause in which the joint capsule, becomes inflamed and stiff, greatly restricting motion and causing chronic pain; pain is usually constant, worse at night, and with cold weather.
Allodynia the perception of pain to a stimulus that does not normally cause pain (i.e. gust of wind across the skin causing pain); common in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Analgesia lack of sensation; numb
Ankylosing Spondylitis chronic form of arthritis affecting the spine and its junction with the sacrum and pelvis; joints become swollen and inflamed; affected spinal bones join together.
Annular Tear a rip or tearing of the outer layer of the intervertebral disc (Annulus Fibrosis) allowing the nucleus to herniate out; 3 different types – radial, concentric, & peripheral; may be extremely painful (Discogenic Pain); diagnosed with a Discogram
Annulus Fibrosis outer portion of the Intervertebral Disc; responsible to keeping the inner aspect of the disc (Nucleus Pulposus) contained
Anterior Cruciate Ligament commonly known as the ACL; ligament responsible for stabilizing the knee; commonly torn by athletes and typically requires surgery to repair
Anterolisthesis type of Spondylolisthesis in which the upper vertebra appears to have slide forward over the vertebral body below it
Antidepressants class of medications acting on pathways in the brain aimed at increasing amounts of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepiniephrine to improve mood; includes SSRI, SNRI, and TCA; used in Pain Management at low doses to treat pain
Apophyses Bony tubercle or process
Arachnoiditis extremely painful inflammation of the arachnoid layer of the meningies; can lead to the formation of scar tissue and adhesion that can make the spinal nerves “stick” together; common in FBSS and Post Laminectomy Syndrome
Arhropathy term referring to a painful and/or inflammed joint
Arthritis inflammation of one or more joints; form of arthropathy
Arthrogram procedure used to image a joint by injecting contrast and taking an image with either Xray, Fluoroscopy or CT Scan


Benzodiazepine class of medications designed to treat anxiety; includes Valium, Ativan, and Zanax
Betamethasone type of corticosteroid commonly used in many pain management procedure due to its antiiflammatry qualities; relatively short onset and can last for several months; considered a “particulate” steroid – meaning it has granules in the solution, however it is much more mild than many of the other corticosteroids used (i.e. triamcinolone)
Blood Patch procedure used to treat headaches caused by pucture of the dura
Blood Thinner class of medications designed to prevent blood clots; includes, asprin, heparin, plavix, coumdin, etc; must be stopped before certain procedures (see ASRA guidelines)
Bone Spur bony growth or rough edges of bone
Botox name brand for botulinum toxin
Botulinum Toxin isolated element from the bacteria causing tetanus (muscle paralysis); injected in extremely small doses to cause muscle relaxation for medical and cosmetic purposes
Brachial Plexopathy inflammation, trauma or any kind of disorder involving the brahcial plexus; symptoms and areas of discomfort will depend of the area of the plexus affected
Brachial Plexus complex collection of nerves in the neck/shoulder region; derived from the C5 through T1 spinal nerves and gives rise to the nerves of the arm and hand (i.e. ulnar, median, radial, musculocutaneous, and axillary nerves)
Bulging Disc extension of disc tissues beyond edges of apophyses, less than 3mm, greater than 50% of the disc circumference
Bupivacaine Long acting local anesthetic within the same class as Lidocaine; onset 45-60 minutes and lasts 6-8 hours
Bursa gel-like sac located throought the body designed to provide cushion over areas of bone
Bursitis painful inflammation of a bursa


Carpal Tunnel space/passageway in the wrist and base of the hand allowing the tendons and median nerve to pass from the forearm into the hand; when this space becomes to small for these structures to easily pass through, the median nerve will become comressed causing carpal tunnel syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome pain and/or tingling in the hand; caused by narrowing of the carpal tunnel resuling in compression of the median nerve; can be broughout on by poor positioning the forearms or wrists; an overuse injury
Caudal referring to procedures performed in the region of the tailbone that are designed to gain access to the epidural space; performed through the sacral hiatus; used in infants due to its safety and low risk profile
Celebrex a type of NSAID that selectively treats inflammation with less GI disomfort; generic name is Celecoxib; used to treat muscle, bone and joint pain and inflammation
Celestone type of corticosteroid; name brand for betamethasone
Celiac Plexus collection of neurons located just below the diaphragm responsible to collecting and transmitting signals from the gut; part of the sympathetic nervous system; commonly targeting when treating painful pancreatic tumors or inflammation
Centralized Pain also known as Central Pain Syndrome; neurological condition caused by damage or malfunction in the CNS which causes a sensitization of the pain system; cause range from trauma to strokes (car accidents, limb amputations, trauma, spinal cord injury, tumors, stroke, immune system disorders or diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Graves or Addison’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and epilepsy)
Cerebrospinal Fluid clear watery fluid surrounding the spinal cord; contained within the thecal sac (intrathecal space); created in the brain and used to delivery necessary nutrients to the spinal cord
Cervical referring to the neck; C1-C7 vertebra or C1-8 spinal nerves
Cervicalgia general term for neck pain
Chrondromalacia Patella inflammation of the inner surface of the patella (knee cap) and softening of the cartilage; common in athletes, particularly runners
Chronic Pain pain lasting longer than 6 months; will typically require treatment
Clavicle collar bone
Clonidine medication used for treating high blood pressure as well as chronic pain; α2-adrenergic receptor agonist believed to treat pain syndromes resistant to treatment
Clopidogrel type of blood thinner used to decrease the risk of blood clots and/or strokes; must be stopped before most treatments due to the increased risk for bleeding
Cluster Headache severe headaches on one side of the head/face, usually around the eye; associated with nasal congestion, eye watering, and swelling around the eye; characterized by repeated attacks occuring together in “clusters”
Coccydynia term referring to painful coccyx or tailbone; typically presents as pain with sitting
Coccyx tailbone
Codeine an opiate typically administered together with Tylenol or in cough syrup; used for pain, antitussive (cough suppressant), diarrhea, and anxiety
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome previously known as Causalgia or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy; 2 types – Type I and Type II; extremely painful and debilitating condition affecting either the upper or lower extremities; characterized by dispropotionate pain caused by typically nonpainful stimulus (light touch); allodynia is a common symptom
Compression Fracture also known as a vertebral compression fracture (VCF); crush-like fracture of the Vertebral Body causing it to become shorter/smaller; common in Osteoporosis, bone tumors and metastic cancer
Contrast medication used in most interventional and radiology procedures; typically iodine-based however non-iodine versions (gadolinium) are available; used to visualize internal structures
Costochondritis inflammation of the junction between the rib and the sternum
Coumadin oral blood thinner; requires regular blood testing to monitor; causes PT/INR levels to be higher
COX-2 Inhibitor class of medications including Celebrex – type of NSAID that specifically targets the COX-2 receptor to treat pain and inflammation with less stomach/GI upset
Cranial Nerve 12 nerves located in the brain responsible for our senses (smell, taste, sight, hearing, etc)
CRPS abbreviation for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
CSF abbreviation for Cerebrospinal Fluid
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome narrowing of the small passageway on the inner part of the elbow that allows the ulnar nerve to pass from the upper arm into the forearm; pain and tingling felt in the inner aspect of the forearm, hand and fingers; often wakes people up in the middle of the night


Decompression a surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure and alleviate pain caused by the impingement of bone and/or disc material on the spinal cord or nerves.
Degenerative Joint Disease another term for Osteoarthritis
Degerative Disc Disease degeneration of one or more Intervertebral Discs of the spine, aka DDD; disease of aging; typically painless in most people, although in others is can lead to severe chronic pain if left untreated
Depomedrol name brand for methylprednisolone
DeQuervain’s Tenosynovitis inflammation of the sheath or tunnel that surrounds two tendons that control movement of the thumb; pain, tenderness, occasional swelling over the thumb side of the wrist, and difficulty gripping objects; aka BlackBerry thumb, gamer’s thumb, washerwoman’s sprain, radial styloid tenosynovitis, de Quervain disease, de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, de Quervain’s stenosing tenosynovitis, mother’s wrist, or mommy thumb
Diabetic Peripheral Polyneuropathy painful syndrome resulting from poorly controlled diabetes; felt as a burning pain in the feet
Diagnostic Block procedure where a nerve is purposely “blocked” with local anesthetic to prevent it from transmitting pain signals – if the suspected nerve is responsible for transmitting pain from a painful area, there will be temporary pain relief until the local anesthetic wears off; if the blocked nerve is not involved with the pain, there will be no pain relief; used to help determine where pain is coming from and what the course of treatment should be
Dilaudid name brand for hydromorphone
Disc see Intervertebral Disc
Disc Bulge extenstion of intervertebral disc border beyond normal anatomical alignement; not always pathologic or symptomatic
Disc Degeneration wearing down of intervertebral disc often from aging, or excessive use; not always painful or symptomatice; can lead to painful back condtions and damage disc
Disc Extrusion a type of herniation where disc material extends beyonds it normal borders and the amount of materail psuhing out it more than the amount connecting it to the body of the disc; often times it extend hihger or lower than the level of the disc at whcih it occurs
Disc Herniation when soft inner material of a intervertebral disc pushes though the outer layer of the disc; also call slipped disc; may put pressure on nerves causing pain
Disc Protrusion see Disc Bulge
Discectomy the surgical removal of part or all of an intervertebral disc, performed to relieve pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord.
Discitis infection of the Intervertebral Disc
Discogenic Pain painful intervertebral disc brought on by movement; typically midline pain; diagnosed by discogram
Discogram test used to diagnose Discogenic Pain; involves placing a thin needle into a disc and injecting a small amount of contrast into the disc to see what it looks like under Xray
Dopamine neurotransmitter and hormone; part of “reward-motivated” behavior; Parkinson’s Disease is a decrease in dopamine-producing neurons; responsible for motor control and plays a very important role in the transmission and regulation of pain in the body
Dorsal Column pathway of the spinal cord responsible for communicating the sensation of light touch and proprioception (ability to know where your body parts are in space without needing to look); area where a Spinal Cord Stimulator works
Dorsal Root Ganglion cluster of neurons located next to the spinal cord responsible for collecting information from regions of the body and then transmitting that information through the spinal cord and into the brain, afferent neurons
DPPN abbreviation for Diabetic Peripheral Polyneuropathy
DRG abbreviation for the Dorsal Root Ganglion
Dura thickest, outmost layer of the meninges; barrier between the epidural space and the Cerebrospinal Fluid/Spinal Cord
Dura Mater outermost layer of the meningies; separates the epidural space from the spinal cord
Duramorph derivative of morphine designed for injection into the epidural space
Dysesthesia painful numbness


Endoscope a device used in Minimally Invasive Procedures to image internal body parts via button-hole incisions rather than needing large incisions
Epidural Abscess dangerous infection within the epidural space; neurosurgical emergency
Epidural Hematoma dangerous colleciton/pooling of blood within the epidural space; neurosurgical emergency; patients on blood thinners (i.e.plavix) are at a increased risk; rapidly progressive weakness and paralysis in the legs
Epidural Injection refers to an injection into the epidural space; result will vary depending on the medication injected – i.e. in childbirth, large amounts of anesthetic are used to eliminate painful sensation during the delivery process. In the case of pain management, cortisone is typically injected to decrease inflammation and offer pain relief
Epidural Space the anatomical space above the spinal cord, outside the thecal sac; contains fatty tissue and small blood vessels
Epidurogram procedure designed to evaluate the shape and structure of the epidural space; performed by injecting a small amount of contrast into the epidural space followed by an X-ray image to observe the pattern or spread of the contrast; useful procedure for evaluating spinal stenosis or an adhesion in the epidural space that may be causing pain
Excision removal by cutting away material, as in removing a disc.


Facet a posterior structure of a vertebra which articulates (joins) with a facet of an adjacent vertebra to form a facet joint that allows motion in the spinal column. Each vertebra has a right and left superior (upper) facet and a right and left inferior (lower) facet; creates a popping sound when we crack our neck or back
Facet Syndrome general term used to describe arthritic, inflammed or generally painful facets
Facial Pain pain of the face, excluding headaches; includes trigeminal neuralgia
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome term used to classify pain either caused by or persisting even after surgery
Fasciotomy a surgical procedure where the tissue that connects muslces and soft tissue is cut to decrease pressure that limits blood flow: procedure that treats comparment syndrome and often used to save a limb
FBSS abbreviation for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome
Femoral Nerve a large nerve in the lower body that transmits signals to and from areas of the leg; comes from the lumbar plexus and combination of L2,L3,L4 spinal nerves
Fentanyl a naroctic pain reliever often used to treat chronic sever pain(ie Duragesic, Actiq)
Fibromyalgia generalized pain syndrome, poor understood – currently there is no known cause; presents as pain or tenderness throughout the body in the absence of any obvious trauma or pathology; typically treating with oral medications (i.e. Lyrica)
Fluoroscope A machine that provides real time, live, X-ray images on a screen to a physician prefroming procedures or evaluating structures
Foramen an opening in bony skeleton through which various structures pass; the opening in the spinal column through which spinal nerves pass through
Foramen Ovale a large hole in the base of the skull in posterior part of the sphenoid bone
Foraminatomy surgical procedure to increase the size of a foramen to decrease pressure on a nerve or structure
Formication symptom of nerve damage; sensation of insects crawling on the affected area
Frozen Shoulder a condtion in which the mobility of a shoulder joint in decreased often secondary to underuse from pain or scar tissue from inflammation; also known as adhesive capsulitis
Fusion type of spinal surgery designed to prevent movement at a particular spinal level; considered an invasive procedure and involves placing large metal rodes and securing them to the vertebra to restrict movement; commonly performed by surgons when discogrnic pain is suspected


GABA neurotransmitter in the Central Nervous System, abbreviation for gamma-Aminobutyric acid; reduces activity in the nervous system and implicated in pain transmission
Gabapentin anti-seizure medication commonly used to treat neuropathy
Ganglion of Impar located at the junction of the sacrum and the coccyx; also known as the ganglion of Walther or sacrococcygeal ganglion; responsible to transmitting sensation (including pain) from the anus, genital region, peroneum, and inner pelvis
Gasserian Ganglion also known as the Trigeminal Ganglion; collection of cell bodies responsible for transmitting sensory signals in the face via the Trigeminal Nerve (the 5th Cranial Nerve)
Genicular Nerves group of nerve surrounding the knee that communicate sensation; these nerves can be ablated to relieve chronic knee pain
Golfer’s Elbow term used to describe Lateral Epidondylitis
Greater Trochanteric Bursa large bursa serving as a cushion under the skin and over the greater trochanter of the femur


Hamstring collectively refers to the muscles and tendons in the back of the thigh responisble for bending the knee
Headache pain in the head that can occur in various parts of the head or neck and have multiple causes
Herniated Disc See Disc Herniation
Herniated Nucleus Pulposus See Disc Herniation
Hyaluronic Acid synthetic medication derived from the rooster comb; commonly used to treat painful joints (particularly in knee pain); designed to lubricate the joint and allow the painful joint surfaces to glide across each other during movement
Hydrocodone a pain medicaiton that is a semi synthetic opioid made from codeine (i.e. Vicodin)
Hydromorphone a pain medication that is a potent centrally acting opioid (i.e.Dilaudid)
Hyperalgesia a heigthened or increased sensitiviety to pain, often coasued by damage to nerves or sometimes by response to medications often opiods; can be temporary or sustained


Iliohypogastric Nerve a nerve that is the branch of anterior part of the first lumbar nerve and sometimes part of the twelfth thoracic nerve; it supplies sensation to skin lower abdominal area and abdominal muscles
Ilioinguinal Nerve a nerve that is the branch part of the first lumbar nerve; it supplies sensation to skin of upper inner thigh, scortum in ment and labia majora in women
Impingement Syndrome a painful shoulder condition which can be caused by bursitis, tendonitits, or degenerative joint disease or combination of these three, that may cause narrwoing of shoulder joint space, resulting in painful moevements as structrue in the shoulder rub against each other.
Infrapatellar Bursitis an often painful inflammatory condition of the fluid cushion just below the kneecap in the front part of the knee
Infusion a medical procdure done in the office where medications or supplements are administered intravenously in a monitored setting to treat a variety of painful conditons
Intercostal Nerve small nerves located under each rib that travel the length of the rib – starting in the back and wrap around ending the sterum; commonly affected in shingles and are the injured nerves in Post Thoracotomy and Post Mastectomy Syndrome
Interlaminar refers to any procedure where the approach taken is between the lamina of 2 adjacent vertebral levels; common approach for a traditional epidural injection
Intervertebral Disc a soft tissue structure comprised of soft middle and tough outer catilage ring that lies inbetween vertebral bodies in the spinal column
Intrathecal Space also known as the subrachnoid space; between the dura and the spinal cord; contains the Cerebral Spinal Fluid; commonly utilized location for drug delivery (i.e. Intrathecal Pumps and chemotherapy) due to the micro-doses of medication needed as these medications are essentially being delivery directly onto the spinal cord, into the central nervous system
Intravenous refers to any procedure where a needle has been inserted into a vein for the purpose of delivering medication directly into the blood stream
IV abbreviation for Intravenous
IVIG abbreviation for Intravenous Immunoglobulin; used in Intravenous Infusions to treat certain types of Neuropathy (i.e. Small Fiber Neuropathy)


Jumper’s Knee term used to refer to Patellar Tendonitis


Kenalog brand name for Triamcinolone
Ketamine medication used in anesthesia and pain relief; N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) Receptor antagonist; extremely powerful pain reliever – administered topically in cream form or given intravenously during an infusion; effective in the treatment of chronic pain syndromes, espcially Neuropathy, CRPS, Fibromyalgia, as well as in depression
Ketorolac powerful NSAID given intranasally or injected; equivalent to morphine; can only be used short term (4-5 days) due to GI upset and potential for ulcer; used in Emergency Room setting and for post operative pain relief
Kyphoplasty minimally invasive spine procedure used to treat Vertebral Compression Fractures; a small balloon is inflated from inside a fractured vertebra thereby restoring its height and shape, followed by the injection of a cement-like substance to heal the fracture
Kyphosis condition in which the upper back curves forward, sometimes leading to the appearance of a hump in the back; may result from years of poor posture, spine fractures associated with osteoporosis, trauma, or developmental problems.


Lamina rear part of the vertebra; flattened or arched part of the vertebral arch, forming the roof of the spinal canal
Laminectomy surgical removal of the lamina in order to gain access to the spinal cord or nerve roots, to remove tumors, to treat injuries to the spine, or to relieve pressure on a nerve root.
Laminoplasty a surgical procedure which a bone arch over the spinal cord, called the lamina, are cut and then repositioned to provide more space and relieve pressure on the spinal cord and/or
Laminotomy a surgical procedure in which part of a bone arch over the spinal cord is removed to provied more space and relieve pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve root
Laser Spine Surgery refers to a collection of unfounded spinal procedures whereby a laser is supposedly used to cut through tissue instead of a scalpel; not supported by any medical evidence to be adventageous or even effective
Lateral Epicondylitis a painful condition of the lateral aspect of the upper forearm and elbow, from overuse that causes tendonitis and stresses the extensor carpi radilais brevis, also known as tennis elblow
Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve small nerve located in the groin/upper thigh region; provides sensation to the upper-outer aspect of the thigh; meralgia paresthetica occurs when this nerve becomes compressed or damaged
Lateral Meniscus a semicircular soft tissue structure inside the knee joint that is made of fibrous cartilege that provides cushioning to the knee; it lies on the lateral part of the knee joint
Lidocaine local anesthetic used in nearly every medical proedure; fast onset (several seconds) and short duration (60 minutes); Sodium-channel blocker; also used in Infusion Therapy
Ligament a soft tissue strcutre comprised of tough fibrous material and connects two bones or sometimes cartilege structures together
Ligamentum Flavum a ligament of the spine that connect adjacent vertebral bodies by attaching at the lamina from the seconde vertebrae C2 down to the start of the sacrum
Little League Elbow term used to describe Medial Epicondylitis
Lordosis inward curve of the lumbar spine; may represent a spinal deformity, also called swayback, which occurs when the lower back curves inward more than normal; pathologic or excessive lordosis may be caused by osteoporosis or spondylolisthesis; obesity, congenital disorders, or overcompensation for kyphosis may contribute to this condition.
Lumbago general term for low back pain
Lumbar referring to the low back; L1-L5 vertebra or spinal nerves
Lumbar Puncture procedure in which a needle is inserted through the Dura and into the intrathecal space to deliver medication directly on the spinal cord
Lumbar Sympathetic Plexus a collection of nerves and ganglia near the vertebrae in the spine in the upper and middle lumbar levels that control sympathetic nervous signal flow
Lyrica name brand for Pregabalin


Manipulation Under Anesthesia a treatment to improve range of motion of various joints by applying physical pressure while patient is under sedation to break down scar tissue
Medial Branch small nerve responsible for transmitting sensation from the facet joints; target point for RFA with treating most back and neck pain
Medial Epicondylitis a painful condition of the medial aspect of the upper forearm and elbow, from overuse that causes tendonitis and stresses the common flexor tendon, also known as golfer’s elblow
Medial Meniscus a semicircular soft tissue structure inside the knee joint that is made of fibrous cartilege that provides cushioning to the knee; it lies on the medial part of the knee joint
Median Nerve a major nerve in the upper extremtiy that originates from C5-T1 level of the spinal cord that intervates palmar aspect of the thumb, first(index)finger, third finger, part of the fourth and the distal tips of thumb, index, and middle finger. It also send inntervates part of the forearm and passes through the carpal tunnel; it is often the nerve compressed and causing symptoms in carpal tunnel syndrome
Meralgia Paresthetica disorder involving the Lateral Femoral Cutaenous Nerve; pain is felt in the upper outer aspect of the thigh; commonly caused by obestiy or wearing excessively tight undergarments
Methadone medication used to treat chronic and severe pain; a synthetic opioid that acts on specific pain receptors
Methylprednisone medication in the class of steroids that is used to treat inflammtory conditions such as inflammaotry joint pain,tenodon pain, and other conditions
Microdiscectomy type of discectomy performed via a small incision allowing the surgeon direct visualization of the disc and the underlying structures
Midazolam medication in the class of benzodiazepines used to provide mild sedation and relaxtion during medical procedures
Migraine a trype of headache often with severe pain and intense throbbing that can be accompanied by visual changes such as seeing spots, tingling in arm, nausea and vomiting; Can be worse with external stimuli such as bright light or sounds
Migraine Headache See Migrane
Morphine a medication used to treat severe pain; it attached at specific receptors in the brain to provide pain releif and it is in the class medciations of opioids
Mu receptor the specific type of protein receptor in the nervous system upon which many opioid class medcaitons attach to provide their pain relieving effect
MUA abbreviation for Maniuplation Under Anesthesia
Multiple Sclerosis medical condition that results form the damage of nerve sheaths in the brain and spinal cord resulting in numbness and difficulites in speech, vision, muscle strength; often progressive and chronic conditon
Muscle Spasm spontaneous muscle contraction that can result in pain and stiffness limiting function
Myelopathy pathologic changes to the spinal cord resulting in weakness, sensory deficits, increased muscle tone, bowell changes, bladder changes
Myofascial Pain pain resulting from muscles and the fascia that connects or contains them


Nerve Block procedure performed by injecting a small amount local anesthetic onto a specific nerve; used to diagnose where pain is being transmitted (diagnostic), to block the transmittion of pain (therapeutic) or before a surgical procedure to provide post-operative pain relief (Regional Anesthesia)
Nerve Root the first part if the nerve that leaves the central nervous system
Neurogenic Claudication medical condition often assocaited with spinal stenosis or inflammation of nerve endings that results in pain in the low back and legs, often woresning with walking or leaning back and improved with leaning or bending forward.
Neurmodulation the use of technilogy such as electrical current to increase or decrease the transmission of nerve signals used to decrease pain in a varitey of conditions(i.e. spinal cord stimulators, radiofrequency)
Neurolysis the breaking down or destruction of nervous tissue by either chemical, physical, or thermal (heat or cold) to alleivate a variety of pain condtions
Neuron primary cell of the Central Nervous System responsible for sending signals to and from the brain
Neurontin name brand for gabapentin
Neuropathic Pain pain caused by damage or disease that effects the nervosu system, often presents as burning pain but can be other forms
Neuropathy medical condition in which nerves do not transmit signals properly resuling in increse or decrease of sensation, numbness, tingling, or pain
Neurotomy type of procedure used to block painful signals being transmitted from a painful part of the body (i.e. Genicular Neurotomy/RFA); accomplished by injecting specical medications (i.e. phenol or alcohol) or delivering radiowave energy to purposely distrupt specific nerves responsible for transmitting pain
NMDA Receptor the N-methyl-D-Aspartate glutamate receptor: its role tought not well defined is beleived to be at controlling rate of fire of across synapses and is a target for many pain treatement medications and therapies
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug class of medications commonly used to treat pain; effective in treating inflammed joints and muscles
NSAID abbreviation for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug
Nucleus Pulposus center gel-like portion of the Intervertebral Disc
Numbness lack of sensation


Obturator Nerve nerve in the low back and legs responsible for transmitting sensation from the inner aspect of the thigh and moving the leg
Occipital Nerve nerve originating from the C2 region of the cervical spine responsible for providing sensation to the rear portion of the head; implicated in causing headaches (i.e. Occipital Neuralgia)
Occipital Neuralgia type of headache resilting in pain in the rear portion of the head believed to be te result of an injury to the Occipital Nerve
OIC abbreviation for Opioid Induced Constipation
OIH abbreviation for Opioid Induced Hyperaglesia
Opiate narcotic pain reliever – naturally occuring alkaloid derived from Opium; includes morphine and codeine
Opioid narcotic pain reliever, synthetically made in part; any medication resembling morphine; includes hydrocodone, hydromophone,oxymorphone, oxycodone heroine and fentanyl
Opioid induced Constipation constipation is an unfortunate side-effect of opioids and opiates due to decreased motility in the intestines
Opioid Induced Hyperaglesia a phenomenon seein in long-term opioid and opiate usage where the patient has increasing pain and pain sensitivity despite taking large amounts of pain medication; pain improves when medications are stopped
ORIF abbreviation for Open Reduction Internal Reduction – a procedure performed an Orthopedic Surgery to repair severe fractures where a rod and/or screws are needed
Osteoarthritis refers to a collection of mechanical abnormalities in the body where joints (i.e. knee, hip, etc) become degraded due to the wearing away of cartilage and subcondrol bone leading to “bone-on-bone”; distinctly different from RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis); Symptoms may include joint pain, tenderness, stiffness, locking, and sometimes swelling
Oxycodone semi-synthetic opioid commonly used to treat pain; active ingredient in Percocet and Oxycontin
Oxymorphone semi-synthetic opioid used to treat pain; active ingredient in Opana; a metabolite of Oxycodone – when the body metabolizes (digests) Oxycodone, it turns into Oxymorphone and this form is the active ingredient used by the body to treat pain


Parasympathetic Nervous System an involuntary part of the nervous system that slows heart rate, helps regulate blood flow, gastro intestinal movement and sphincter control, along wtih the sympathetic system its makes up the autonomic nervous system
Paresthesia tingling sensation; a symptom of neuropathy/neuropathic pain
Paroxysmal Headache a type of headache that results in pain that is usually unilateral (one on side of head), around one eye, intense and stabbing in nature, often short in duration
Pars Interarticularis bony part of the vertebrae that connects inferior and superior articular processes of the facet joint
Patella anatomical term for the knee cap
Patellar Tendonitis an often painful inflammatory condition caused by repetitive stress or injury to the tendon that connects the patella (kneecap) to the tibia (lower leg)
Patellofemoral Syndrome syndrome where symptoms present as pain form the knee and lower femur area; often asscoaited with overuse or sports injuries
PCL abbreviation for Posterior Cruciate Ligament
Pedicle bony part of each side of the neural arch of a vertebra that connects the lamina (back part) with the vertebral body (front part)
Percutaneous effected, occurring, or performed through the skin.
Percutaneous Discectomy type of discectomy, performed throught the skin without any direct visualization of the disc or underlying spinal structures; accomplished with the aid of fluoroscopy
Peroneal Nerve nerve of the lower extremity responsible for transmitting sensation of the lateral (outside) aspect of the leg
Pes Anserine Bursa condition in which there is pain in the lower medial aspect of the knee seconday to inflammation of the pes anserine bursa
Phantom Limb Syndrome the sensation that a missing limb that has been removed via amputation or traumatic injury is still present
PHN abbreviation for Post Herpetic Neuralgia
Piriformis Syndrome a conditon in which the Piriformis muscle can be in spasm or inflammed, which then puts pressure on and can irritate the sciatic nerve, resulting in low back, buttock and leg pain
Plantar Fasciitis a condition in which a thick band of firborus tissue near the heel in the foot becomes inflammed and painful
Plavix name brand for Clopidogrel
Plexus a collection of intersecting nerve branches most commonly located near the spinal column(ie lumbar pelxus, cervical plexus)
Post Herpetic Neuralgia medical term for Shingles; syndrome of Neuropathic Pain folli
Post Mastectomy Syndrome painful neuropathic syndrome follwing an episode of shingles; pain felt in a strip-like region along the region of the skin where the shingles blisters were, even after they heal; pain becomes extremely sensitive and allodynia may develop
Post Thoracotomy Syndrome painful neuropathic syndrome following a thoracotomy procedure; pain is typically felt in a strip-like pattern along the ribs in and around the area of the surgery; pain usually extends beyond the region of the surgery and grows as the pain syndrome progresses
Post-Laminectomy Syndrome painful condition that develops as a result of a Laminectomy; pain be caused by a Laminectomy thought to be the result of scarring of the dura; typically treated with Neuromodulation
Pregabalin generic form of Lyricas; used to treat Neuropathic Pain and Fibromyalgia; belongs to the anti-epileptic class of medication
Prepatellar Bursitis a condition in which the bursa (fluid sac) infront of the patella (knee cap) becomes inflammed and painful; often secondary to overuse or sometimes acute flare up
Propofol IV medication commonly used by anesthesiologists to provide sedation during surgery
Provocative Disography diagnostic procedure used to diagnose discogenic pain; performed by injecting contrast into the center portion of an Intervertebral Disc (Nucleus Pulposus) and pressurizing a potentially painful disc in an attempt to reproduce pain
Pudendal Nerve primary nerve of the perineum and chief sensory nerve of the external genitalia as it supplies the skin and muscles of the perineum, the external urethral sphincter and external anal sphincter; carries sensory, motor, somatic and sympathetic innervation and innervates the external genitalia of both men and women including the bladder and rectum
Pudendal Neuralgia severe burning/lacinating pain in penis, scrotum, labia, perineum or anorectal region; most chronic and disabling form of perineal and pelvic pain; either refers to the symptoms or consequences of an injury to the pudendal nerve


Radial Nerve nerve of the arm/upper extremity, responsible for transmitting sensations from the back of the forearm and hand
Radiculopathy term used to describe pain the shoots or radiates from the spine and down/into the arm or leg
Radiofrequency Ablation commonly used procedure in Pain Management whereby a physician applies energy in the form of radiowaves to a painful nerve or body part making it painless
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy older term, now replaced by Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Retrolisthesis type of Spondylolisthesis in which the upper vertebra appears to have slide backward over the vertebral body below it
Rheumatoid Arthritis an autoimmune disease where the body creates antibodies designed to attack the joints of the body causing pain
Ropivacaine type of long acting local anesthetic; commonly used in regional anesthesia to provide comfort in and around an area where surgery is to be performed
Rotator Cuff structure of the shoulder joint designed to allow the shoulder to move and provide stability; made up of four tendons (supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor and infraspinatus); commonly injured and torn
Rotator Cuff Tear A tear or damage to one of the four tendons (supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor and infraspinatus) that mke up the rotator cuff
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis Inflammation with or without small tear (to one of the four tendons (supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor and infraspinatus) that make up the rotator cuff
RSD abbreviation for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy


Sacral referring to the tailbone region of the spine; S1-S4 vertebra or spinal nerves
Sacroiliac Joint joint in the buttock formed by the junction of the sacrum with the pelvic (ilium); immobile; inflammation of the sacroliac joint leads to Sacroiliits
Sacroiliitis painful inflmmatory condition of the Sacroiliac Joint; pain is felt in the low back, buttocks and sometimes in the back of the thigh(s)
Sacrum large, triangular bone at the base of the spine; located in the upper, back part of the pevlic cavity
Scapula anatomical term for the shoulder blade
Sciatica term used to describe pain shooting/traveling down the leg; true sciatica is pain traveling in the distribution of the sciatic nerve due to trauma or damage of just the sciatic nerve – however, this term is used interchangibly to describe any travelling/shooting pain in the leg, regardless of the nerve involved
Scoliosis abnormal curvature of the spine from left to right; spine appears to have an “S”-shaped curve with seen on Xray
Selective Norephinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor a type of medciaton that prevents the reabsorbtion of serotonin and norepinepherine often used to treat depression and pain(i.e. Venlafaxine)
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor a type of medciaton that prevents the reabsorbtion of serotonin often used to treat depression and pain (i.e. Paroxitine)
Serotonin neurotransmitter primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets, and the central nervous system of animals, including humans; contributes mood and depression; medications that increase levels of serotonin improve pain and mood
Serotonin Syndrome life-theatening condition caused by by a dangerous interaction between 2 or more medicatons that increase levels of serotonin within the body to dangerously high levels; characterized by increased heart rate, shivering, sweating, dilated pupils, intermittent tremor or twitching, as well as overresponsive reflexes
Shingles a painful condition that results from the awakening of a dormant Chicken Pox virus in the spine; presents as painful blisters in a specific distribution, commonly along the upper back, chest, or even the face; if the pain is left untreated, one can develop Post Herpetic Neuralgia where the pain will persist and intensify even after the skin heals
Shoulder Dislocation used to describe when the humers separates from the scapula out of the shoulder joint; often occurs from traumatic force
Shoulder Seperation refers to a disorder of the Acromioclavicular Joint; graded 1-4 based to the severity of the injection and degree of separation between the collar bone and scapula; Grade 1 is generally treated with therapy, whereas Grade 4 requires emergent surgery to correct
SI Fusion relatively new, minimally-invasive procedure designed to treat sacroiliitis; a small cylindrical dowel is inserted through the hip and to the sacrum on the painful side; procedure is designed to immobilize painful, unstable Sacroiliac Joints
SIJ abbreviation for the Sacroiliac Joint
SNRI abbreviation for Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor
Sphenopalatine Ganglion small collection of neurons adjacent to the nasal sinuses responsible to for transmitting some sensation of the face; also known as the Pterygopalatine ganglion, Meckel’s ganglion, or Nasal ganglion; located inside the skull, approximately 4-5mm in size and is “suspended” from the maxillary nerve by the pterygopalatine nerves and located adjacent to a branch of the Trigeminal Nerve; commonly targeted when treating Facial Pain
Spinal Cord Stimulator an implantable device that uses electrilcal signals to block pain traveling along nerves in a part of the spinal cord
Spinal Stenosis abnormal narrowing of the central canal around the spinal cord leading to pain in the low back and legs; causes neurogenic claudication
Spondylitis inflammation of the spine; form of spondylopathy
Spondylolysis defect or fracture of the Pars Interarticularis
Spondylopathy a term used to describe whenever there is wear and tear, changes in alignment, or damage to the vertebrae(bones) in the spine; can result in pain
Spondylosis degenerative Osteoarthritis of the facet joints
Sponylolisthesis a condition of the spine where one vertebral body is displaced with respect to another either above or below it; the vertebra will appear to be slipping foward or backward over the vertebra below it; anterolisthesis is one vertebral “slipping” forward over the one immediately below it; retrolisthesis is one vertebra “slipping” backward over the one below it
SSRI abbreviation for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor
Stellate Ganglion name given to a collection of ganglion form the lower cervical and upper thoracic regions of the spine; it funtions as a regulator for sympathetic nervouse system signals
Steroid a large class of medications that is often used to reduce inflammation and swelling thereby reducing pain; examples are cortisone, betamethasone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone,etc)
Sub-Acute Pain pain that lasts usually longer than 6 weeks but may last up to a year;
Subarachnoid Space the space between the arachnoid membrane and pia matter, which are thin membrane soft tissues that surrond the central nervouse system
Suboxone a medication made from buprenorphine and naloxone; used to treat opioid addiction
Superior Hypogastric Plexus a collection of nerves often located in the lumbar region of the spine; it can be a target to help treat pelvic and lower abdominal pain
Supraspinatus muscle of the shoulder responsible for lifting the arm upward and over the head; attaches to the scapula and is one of the four muscles in the rotator cuff
Sympathetic Nervous System an involuntary part of the nervous system that increases heart rate, increases blood pressure, constricts blood vessels; along wtih the parasympathetic system its makes up the autonomic nervous system


TCA abbreviation for Tricyclic Antidepressant
Tempomandiular Joint joint of the jaw; frequently abbreviated TMJ
Tendon attachment between a muscle and the bone
Tendinosis damage to a tendon at the cellular level; resulting from chronic tendonitis and microtears; reduced tensile strength and increased risk for tear
Tenex Health Procedure procedure used to treat tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, rotator cuff tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis; uses ultrasonic energy to break up and remove damaged tissue through a device no bigger than a needle
Tennis Elbow common term for lateral epicondyitis; pain on the outside aspect of the elbow brought on with movement of the forearm and wrist
Tenodinitis inflammation of a tendon; typically an acute injury
Tenosynovitis inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath )the synovium) that surrounds a tendon
Tenotomy surgical procedure used to treat chronic tendonitis or tendinosis; also known as tendon lengthening
Tension Headache most common type of common headache; recently renames “tension-type” headache; accounts for 90% of all headaches; pain typically reported in the lower back of the head, the neck, and the eyes
Thecal Sac membrane (the dura) that surrounds the spinal cord and is filled with the Cerebral Spinal Fluid
Thoracic referring to the middle back (below the cervical and above the lumbar); T1-12 vertebra and spinal nerves
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome oftem abbreviated TOS; painful syndrome resulting from excess pressure placed on nerves passing between the anterior scalene and middle scalene muscles; pain often reported in the arms and hands, especially when raising them over head
Tic Douloureux term referring to Trigeminal Neuralgia
Tizanidine commonly used medication in Pain Management for muscle relaxation and for relieving neuropathic/shooting pains; α2-adrenergic receptor agonist
TMJ abbreviation for Temporal Mandiular Joint
Toradol name brand for Ketorolac
Tramadol type of pain medication; acts on the same receptor as opioids (mu-) as well as a region of the brain known as the descending pathways (responsible for self-soothing pain relief; works on same pathways as many of the anti-depressant medications – should be taken with caution if ant-depressent medications are being taken at the same time (Serotonin Syndrome)
Transforaminal refers to any procedure where the approach taken is through intervertebral foramen (from the side)
Transverse Process body protrusions found located on vertebral bodies; attachment and anchoring site for muscles of the back; commonly fractures in car accidents and trauma
Triamcinolone type of corticosteroid commonly used many pain management procedures due to its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities; considered a “particulate” steroid – meaning it contains course granules
Tricyclic Antidepressent class of medications commonly used at lower doses to treat pain
Trigeminal Nerve the 5th Cranial Nerve; provides sensation to the face; has 3 divisions (V1, V2 and V3)
Trigeminal Neuralgia painful condition involvingthe Trigeminal Nerve; extremely painful and debilitating condition; type of Facial Pain; electrical shock-like pain in the distribution of the Trigeminal Nerve
Trigger Point Injection procedure used to treat myofascial pain syndrome; consists of using a small needle to break up painful muscle knots
Trochanteric Bursitis inflammation of the greater trochanteric bursa
Tylenol name brand for acetominophen


Ulnar Nerve nerve of the arm/upper extremity; passes under the elbow into the hand; this nerve is what is struck when we say “I hit my funny bone”
Ultrasound type of imaging using high frequency sound waves to see tissue under the skin; most commonly used during pregnancy; used in conjunction with many pain management procedures to allow the physician to see the position for the needle or device


Verebral Compression Fracture collapse of the vertebral body; common in Osteoporosis and cancer patients; felt as deep back ache, pain gets worse with movement, coughing, and lifting objects; pain relieved with lying down; treated with Vertebroplasty or Kyphoplasty
Versed name brand for midazolam
Vertebral Body large portion of the vertebra; building block of the spine
Vertebroplasty minimally invasive spine procedure used to treat Vertebral Compression Fractures; similar to a kyphoplasty however no balloon is used and the shape of the bone is unchanged; cement is injected to stablize the fracture within the bone thus preventing it from progressing
Vulvodynia type of chronic pelvic pain in women; pain in the distribution of the vulva occuring with sitting and intercourse


Ziconotide medication traditionally administered into the CSF to treat pain; generic name for Prialt; derived from the toxin of the cone snail
Zygopopheseal Joint anatomical term for the facet joint