Glossary of Chiropractic Terms


Abdomen - the area of the body that lies between the chest and pelvis

Activator adjusting - a small chiropractic tool used to provide a high velocity and low force adjustment

Acute - short duration and relatively severe

Acute back pain - back pain lasting a short period of time, usually ranging from a few days to several weeks

Adjustment - a form of manipulation of a specific joint involving a high velocity and low amplitude force.  A specific directional force is applied to a given joint in order to restore proper alignment and motion

Anomaly - a deviation from the normal standard that often times refers to congenital and/or hereditary defects

Annulus Fibrosis - the outer layer of a spinal disc

Antalgic posture - abnormal posture that the body utilizes to minimize pain

Anterior - towards the front of the body

Arthritis - a condition of the joints that typically involves inflammation. (ex. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis)

Articulation - a joint or area between two bones or cartilages that allow for motion

Atlas - the upper cervical vertebra that articulates with the base of the skull

Atrophy - is the decrease from normal size of a certain tissue or organ

Autonomic Nervous System - is the part of the nervous system involved in controlling involuntary processes, such as the intestines, heart, and glands.  It is comprised of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system



Backache - refers to back pain, which is one of the most common ailments that people seek out chiropractic treatment

Bells Palsy - is a condition affecting the nerves of the face.  It can cause severe pain along with muscle spasms and drooping of facial features.  The condition is often temporary and may last for days or several months

Bilateral - refers to both sides of the body

Blocking - a technique that utilizes wedge shaped blocks that are used by chiropractors to reposition the pelvis when it is out of its proper alignment

Bone spur - a calcium deposit put down by the body in response to an injury, disease, or incorrect position and/or motion of a joint over an extended period of time

Bursitis - is the inflammation of a bursa, which is a fluid filled sac that body uses to reduce friction under certain tissue structures (ex; knee and shoulder)



CAT scan (Computer Aided Tomography) - an imaging system that utilizes x-rays that are computed to create a 3-D image

Cavitation - the popping sound that occurs within a joint when the joint segments are moved or separated.  It is believed that the pop can be due to a release of gas from the joint and/or from soft tissue adhesions that are released once the joint is moved

Central Nervous System - part of the nervous system composed of the brain and spinal cord

Cerebellum - the area of the brain that controls balance, coordination, and posture

Cerebral Cortex - the area of the brain that controls the sensory and motor functions of the body

Cervical Spine - the upper section of the spine that are located in the neck.  The cervical spine is composed of seven vertebrae, which are referred to as C1-C7

Chiropractic - the science of treating the joints of the body in order to restore motion and elicit a nervous system response.  The primary focus of chiropractic is on the musculoskeletal system and the relationship between the skeletal system, muscles, and corresponding nerves.

Chronic - a condition that lasts for a long period of time

Consultation - a face to face discussion between a patient and the doctor for the purpose of discussing their current health complaint and/or possible treatments

Coccyx - a few small bones connected to the end of the sacrum, commonly known as the tailbone

Compensation Reaction - a problem resulting from the body’s attempt to correct a problem elsewhere in the body

Congenital - a condition that exists at birth

Cranial Nerves - the 12 pairs of nerves that originate from the brain cavity

CT Scan - also known as a CAT Scan, is an imaging system that utilizes x-rays that are computed to create a 3-D image


Degeneration - refers to the wear and tear that may occur over time within the body  

Degenerative disc disease - is the drying and thinning of the vertebral discs due to wear and tear

Degenerative joint disease - also known as osteoarthritis, is a condition in which the joints of the body begin to wear out

Dermatomes - neurological tests that are used to determine the sensitivity and sensations that a certain area of skin has

Diagnosis - determining a certain health condition upon examination and testing

Diagnostic imaging - the use of CT, MRI, x-rays, EMG, and other devices that create images of the body

Disability - a partial or complete loss of physical and/or mental capabilities due to injury or disease

Disc - also known as intervertebral disc, is the cartilage that provides cushion between the spinal vertebrae.  The disc provides protection to the nervous system and also provides shock absorption for the spine

Disc Herniation - often used to describe the disc when it has shifted or protruded outward from its normal position and is causing irritation on the surrounding nerves or spinal cord

Disease - a deviation or absence of health within any tissue, organ, or system of the body as the result of a condition where the body has lost its ability to heal itself


Edema - a condition that involves fluid filling within damaged tissues that may lead to swelling

EMG (Electromyogram) - a device used to measure muscle tone and also detect subluxations due to changes in electrical activity

EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) - a therapeutic procedure involving the use of electrical stimulation to achieve a given physiological response

End plate - refers to the cartilage connected to the ends of the vertebra that serve as attachment points for the disc

Examination - is a process performed by the doctor upon inspection and testing of a patient.  Exams may consist of a health history, orthopedic and neurological tests, as well as other procedures that may be pertinent to determining a patient’s diagnosis

Extension - to stretch or spread a joint segment to its maximal reach


Facet - the posterior joints of the vertebrae that provide the weight bearing surfaces between each vertebral segment

Fixation - refers to a joint segment or tissues that are being held together or restricted in motion

Flexion - the action to bend forward, backward, or to the side

Foramen - a small opening within a bony structure that allows for the passage of other structures

Frontal - referring to the forehead


Health - the state of optimal physical, mental, and social well-being and not necessarily just the absence of disease

Herniation - often used to describe the disc when it has shifted or protruded outward from its normal position and is causing irritation on the surrounding nerves or spinal cord

Homeostasis - a state of physiological equilibrium

Hypermobility - excessive motion of a certain joint segment

Hypesthesia - a state of increased sensitivity due to nerve stimulation

Hypomobility - restricted motion of a certain joint segment

Headache - a pain in the head which may be caused by a variety of reasons.  The most common headaches are tension headaches, migraines, and sinus headaches



Immune System - a system that protects the body from disease and infection, which consists of glands and physiological responses to foreign organisms

Immunity - the ability of your body to resist the spread of foreign organisms

Impairment - a loss or abnormality of a certain physiological, psychological, or anatomical structure and/or function

Inferior - refers to a lower anatomical position

Inflammation - a reactive process within soft tissue after injury that may lead to pain, temperature change, swelling, increased blood flow, and malfunction of the corresponding structure

Innate intelligence - a natural unconscious intelligence that our body possesses in order to self heal and repair

Intervertebral disc - is the cartilage that provides cushion between the spinal vertebrae.  The disc provides protection to the nervous system and also provides shock absorption for the spine


Joint - the area between two articulating bones or cartilages that allow for motion

Joint fixation - decreased movement within a joint segment

Joint dysfunction - a condition in which a joint segment is not moving normally

Joint segment - two bones or cartilages that come together at a given area to provide motion to that surrounding structure



Kyphosis - the backward curve of the spine



Lateral - the side view of the body

Ligament - a strand of fibrous tissue that support and strengthen joint segments between connecting cartilages or bones

Lipping - the bony outgrowth the forms on a bone due to injury/physical stress

Listing - the description of a the position of a vertebral segment in relation to other segments

Long-lever manipulation - a type of spinal adjustment that is intended to stretch or move several vertebrae at one time

Lordosis - the forward curve that can be found in the normal curvature of the cervical and lumbar spine

Lower back pain - the most commonly treated condition in chiropractic.  Lower back pain affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lifetime

Lumbar - the region referred to as the lower back consisting of five vertebrae described as L1-L5



Maintenance Care - a form of chiropractic care that is used to help maintain a person’s health once acute care for a given problem has concluded

Manipulation - also known as an adjustment, is a procedure involving the movement of a specific joint with a high velocity and low amplitude force.  A specific directional force is applied to a given joint in order to restore proper alignment and motion

Maximum Medical Improvement - the point during a patient’s treatment in which they have reached their pre-injury condition

Mechanoreceptor - a type of nerve ending that responds to a mechanical stimulus and causes a neurological response of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves

Meric system  - a chiropractic system that is based upon the theory that certain spinal segments are directly associated with certain organs.  The theory is that if you adjust specific spinal segments where the nerves originate, then you will affect the organs that are stimulated by those nerves.

Migraine headache - a condition marked by severe recurring headaches often with nausea and vomiting.  There are many different causes of migraine headaches.  Chiropractic adjustments can relieve pressure on the cervical spine which may be the cause of many migraine headaches

Misalignment - describes one or more joint segments that are out of alignment or position

Mobilization - a method of manipulation, movement, or stretching used to increase the motion of certain joints or muscles.  This form of manipulation does not include a high velocity thrust

Motion palpation - a method of determining a loss of segmental motion in the joints by feeling how a specific joint segment moves during patient movement.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) - is a type machine that utilizes high doses of magnetism to produce images used to diagnose diseases and injuries

Muscle spasm - is the involuntary tightening of muscles due to injury, irritation, or segmental misalignment.

Musculoskeletal system - includes the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints within the body



Neck pain - pain in the neck that may be due to injury, repetitive stress, inflammation, spinal misalignment, or other causes.  Neck pain may start as just as stiff neck and then over time develop into pain without any direct injury.  Chiropractic adjustments can be used realign the spine and restore proper motion to the joint segments, which may help to reduce or eliminate neck pain

Nerves - are tissues within the body that involve the transmission of signals from the brain and spinal cord to the other tissues of the body as well as sending signals from the tissues back to the spinal cord and brain

Nerve root - the initial segment of the nerve leaving the spinal cord that join another nerve root at the same level to create a segmental spinal nerve

Nervous System - a system of nerves within the body including the brain, spinal cord, and all corresponding nerves

Neural Canal - the opening within the spinal canal where the spinal cord travels

Nociceptors - also known as pain receptors, are specialized nerve cell receptors that are stimulated upon injury

Neurological - refers to the nervous system

Nucleus pulposus - the jelly-like center of the intervertebral disc that provides the cushion for the spine



Objective complaints - are the doctor’s findings after examination

Oblique - diagonal plane

Occipital - the back portion of the head

Orthopedics - referring to the correction or prevention of musculoskeletal problems

Orthopedist - a medical doctor who specializes in the musculoskeletal system

Osteoarthritis - is the degeneration of the joints due to wear and tear, age, injury, excess weight, and poor posture.  Osteoarthritis can cause stiffness of the joints and may become painful due to inflammation of the surrounding tissues



Pain - a symptom of the body responding to abnormal processes that allow you to know that something may be going wrong.

Palpation - a procedure involving examination of the body to determine abnormalities

Paresthesia - is the loss or change in normal sensation

Parasympathetic - a part of the nervous system that controls and regulates the body systems

Pathology - a disease process

Pediatrics - the treatment and care for infants and children

Peripheral Nervous System - the part of the nervous system that connects the central nervous system to the rest of the body

Physiology - the science of all life processes, activities, and functions that are vital to survival

Pinched nerves - often used by patients to describe pain coming from their back or spine, but it may not actually be the reason for their pain

Posterior - towards the back of the body

Preventative care - also known as maintenance care, describes the care of an existing patient that is designed to prevent the worsening or recurrence of a certain condition after previous treatment has helped alleviate the problem.

Prognosis - the possible course and outcome of a given disease or injury as well as the chances of recovery

Prone - lying face down

Proprioceptors - are the sensory portion of the nerves that convey information to the brain about the movement and position of the body


Radiograph - refers to the x-ray film that contains the image after exposure to x-rays

Radiolucent - an object/mass that appears to be lighter in color on a radiograph and allow x-rays to pass through more readily than normal

Radiopaque - an object/mass that appears to be darker in color on a radiograph and do not allow x-rays to pass through as readily as normal

Range of motion - describes the motion of a joint or motion segment that is measured in degrees

Realign - to move a joint or bone back into its normal position

Receptor - the area of a nerve that receives sensory information from the nervous system

Reflex - an involuntary action that is the direct result from a stimulus]

Report of Findings - the point in which the doctor describes the patient’s problem and the length of time it may take to treat the issue, as well as the prognosis.


Sacrum - the triangular shaped bone that is formed below the lumbar spine and joins the two sides of the pelvis

Sciatica - refers to the inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which contains multiple nerves from the lower back that run down into both legs.  Inflammation of the sciatic nerve can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness of the leg

Scoliosis - is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine commonly caused by the abnormal development of the spine during childhood.  Scoliosis can be an inherited condition and is often screened for during childhood development

Sensory - the area of the nerve responsible for “feeling” certain sensations

Slipped disc - a term often incorrectly used to describe a bulging or herniated disc

SOT (Sacro Occipital Technique) - a technique that utilizes specific positionings of the body and the patient’s own body weight to normalize the spinal alignment

Spasm - the involuntary contraction or tightening of muscles due to injury or pain

Spinal adjustment - is the manipulation of the spinal segments in order to correct misalignments

Spinal nerves - the 24 pairs of nerves that exit the spinal cord

Spinous process - the posterior protruding area of the spine that can be seen or felt along the back

Sports Injury - injuries that occur while participating in sports that may be due to impact, accidents, improper stretching, or improper form.  Diagnosing and treating these injuries quickly may help to prevent further damage to the athlete as well as prevent the injury from becoming a recurring problem

Subjective - the problems described by the patient such as their symptoms of pain, headaches, etc.

Subluxation - what a vertebra or joint moves out of its normal position.  Often times subluxations may not cause pain immediately, but rather the pain can build up over time as other issues arise from the improper motion of the joint segment

Superior - the upper or higher position on the body

Supine - lying on your back with the face upward

Sympathic - the part of the nervous system responsible for controlling the various movements of the body

Symptom - a physiological response within the body that acts as a warning to something being wrong.  Symptoms from musculoskeletal problems commonly show up as pain, numbness, and tingling


Tendon - a fibrous band that attaches muscles to bones

Therapy - methods used to relieve pain and restore normal body functions

Thoracic - refers to the middle and upper portions of the back that consist of twelve vertebrae designated as T1-T12

TMJ - is the acronym for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that attaches the jaw to the skull

TMJ dysfunction - is a condition involving misalignment or inflammation of the TMJ.  This condition can lead to clicking of the jaw when opening, headaches, jaw pain, and stiffness of the surrounding muscles

Torticollis - refers to the involuntary spasm of the neck muscles

Traction - a method that utilizes a pulling force along the long axis

Transverse process - lateral bony protrusions from the vertebrae where the muscles attach

Trigger Point - a painful tight band of muscle that can cause radiating or referred pain in other areas of the body when pressed



Ultrasound - is a therapy that utilizes high frequency sound waves to areas of injury or inflammation



Vertebra - describes the bone of the spine consisting of 7 cervical vertebrae, 12 thoracic vertebrae, and 5 lumbar vertebrae.  The sacrum consists of 5 fused vertebrae and below the sacrum is the coccyx, also known as the tailbone

Vertebral arteries - are the arteries that run on each side of the vertebra

Vertigo - refers to the feeling of dizziness that people may feel.  There are several causes of vertigo which must be first diagnosed in order to determine the type of treatment needed



Wellness - is a relationship between health and physical fitness as it applies to chiropractic

Whiplash - refers to the sudden movement of the cervical spine often due to automobile collisions.  This can cause muscles and ligaments to be stretched beyond their normal physiological range, thus resulting in damage to the tissues. Symptoms do not always occur immediately after collision and may start days later.  It is important to always be examined after a automobile collision to determine if any injury was incurred that may result in future problems.



X-rays - are a form of ionizing radiation that may be used to create an image of skeletal system


Cobb Chiropractic - Providing chiropractic services to Fredericksburg, Tx and surrounding areas

Cobb Chiropractic
905 S. Adams St
Fredericksburg, Tx 78624

Phone: 830-992-3221
Fax: 830-992-3212

© 2017 - Cobb Chiropractic