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Anatomical Terms


Abduction – Movement away from the midline of the body

Adduction – Movement bringing toward the midline of the body

Anterior – The front of the body; the belly – button side; same as ventral

Abductor – A muscle performing the function of abduction

Abdomen – The portion of the body between the thorax and pelvis

Abduction – The act of drawing away from the midline; opposite of adduction

Abduct – To draw away from the midline

Abscess – Localized collection of pus

Acetabulum – The cavity in the os coxae into which the head of the femur fits

Achilles Tendonitis – Inflammation of the Achilles tendon

Acromion – Bony process of the scapula which forms the point of the shoulder

Acute – Severe and of short duration: used in speaking of duration and severity of disease

Adamant – Extremely hard, as enamel of tooth

Adduction – The act of drawing toward the midline; opposite of abduction

Adduct – To draw toward the midline

Amphiarthrosis – A joint with little movement and no joint cavity

Anatomical – To accommodate the contours of the body

Anconeus – Pertaining to the elbow

Ankle Sprain / Grade I – Stretching and slight or partial tearing of one or more ligaments in the ankle

Ankle Sprain / Grade II – Stretching and partial tearing of one or more ligaments of the ankle, resulting in weakening and some loss of ankle function

Ankle Sprain / Grade III – A severe injury to the ankle in which on or more ligaments are stretched and totally torn. A severe sprain may include a temporary or lasting dislocation

Ankylosis – The fusion of a joint

Anterior – Placed in the front or forward part; same as ventral; opposite of posterior or dorsal

Anterior Cruciate Ligament – The ligament that travels from the medial border of the lateral femoral condyle to its point of insertion anterolaterally to the medial tibial spine

Anteversion – A forward turning; a condition in which an entire organ is abnormally tipped forward

Anteflexion – A forward curvature; a condition in which the upper part of an organ is bent forward; opposite of retroflexion

Apex – Top or summit

Aponeurosis – A flat sheet of white fibrous tissue, usually serving as an attachment for a muscle; plural aponeuroses; aponeurotica, Latin adjective

Appliance – Device used in support of fracture fixation – external or internal

Apposition – Contact of two surfaces; bring together

Aqueous – Watery

Arthritis – Inflammation of a joint

Arthrodesis – Fusion of a joint eliminating all motion

Arthroplasty – The surgical reconstruction of a joint

Arthroscopy – A procedure carried out with an arthroscope, which is instrument with a system of lenses and lights that enables a surgeon to view the inside of a joint. It is used most often to study the knee joint. Arthroscopy reveals abnormalities inside the joint

Arthrosis – A joint; from the Greek

Arthrotomy – Cutting into a joint

Articular – Pertaining to joint

Articulation – A joint; from the Latin

Asepsis – A condition free from germs; free from infection

Aspect – Position, surface, or face

Aspera – Rough

Aspirate – To remove by suction

Atrophy – A wasting away of tissue

Autonomic – Being self – controlled; independent

Avascular – Not supplied with blood

Axial – Pertaining to the axis or line about which a body turns, therefore pertaining to the trunk; opposite of appendicular

Biaxial – Turning about two axes

Biconcave – Having two concave surfaces

Bilateral – On both sides

Bipolar – Having two poles or processes

Blood – A fluid tissue circulating through heart, arteries, veins and capillaries.

Brachial – Pertaining to the arm

Bursa – Lubricating sac to prevent friction between moving parts; cushion relieving pressure

Bursitis – Inflammation of the bursa, especially of the shoulder or elbow

Calcaneus – The heel bone; also termed calcaneum

Calcified – Process by which organic tissue becomes hardened by a deposit of calcium salt

Cancellous Bone – Body of ends of long bones, most of the body of flat and short or small bones (spongy)

Capitate – Bone of the wrist having head – shaped process

Capitulum – Little head

Capsular – A ligament which surrounds a movable joint

Capsule – The outer soft tissue layer of joint consisting of fibrous tissues and ligaments; completely encases the joint

Caput – Head; capitis, of the head

Carpal – Pertaining to the wrist

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – A nerve disorder that causes pain, loss of feeling and loss of strength in the hands

Carpus – The wrist; carpi, “of the wrist”

Cartilage – White, compressible covering of joint surfaces, coated with “joint oil”; motion is practically friction – free

Caudal – pertaining to any tail – like structure; inferior in position

Central – Situated in the mid – portion as opposed to peripheral

Chondromalacia (Runner’s Knee) – Aching pain behind the kneecap. Pain begins and progresses slowly. It normally appears in healthy, athletically active young people

Chronic – Of long duration; opposite of acute

Circumduction – The distal end scribes a circle or arc

Circumflex – Bent or turned about

Clavicle – The collar bone

Closed Reduction – To set a broken bone by manipulation

Coccyx – Last portion of vertebral column

Compact Bone – Dense, strong bone which composes the shaft

Compound Fracture – Open wound at fracture site

Compression – The act of pressing or squeezing together

Concave – Having a depressed surface; center is at a lower level than edge; opposite of convex

Condyle – A round knob on the end of a bone; a knuckle

Condyloid – Resembling a knuckle

Congenital – Present at birth

Contracture – Shortening or distortion of a tissue, usually a muscle

Contusion – A bruising injury that does not break the skin

Convex – Having a rounded elevated surface; opposite of concave

Coracoid – Like a crow’s beak; variant of coronoid

Cortex – Peripheral portion of bone

Cortical Bone – Solid portion of the shaft of a bone which surrounds the medullary canal

Costal – Pertaining to a rib or ribs

Coxa Plana – Necrosis of bony nucleus of head of femur in children, resulting in flat head

Coxa – The hip; coxae, “of the hip”

Cranial – Pertaining to the cranium

Cranium – The skull or brain pan

Crepitus – Grating of broken bone or joint

Crest – A prominent ridge

Cruciate – Shaped like a cross

Cubital – Pertaining to the space in front of the elbow

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – Effect of pressure on the ulnar nerve, one of the main nerves of the hand, causing numbness and tingling in the ring and small fingers of the hand

Deep – remote from the surface

Degenerative Arthritis – Deterioration of cartilaginous surfaces with marked thinning out of joint space usually associated with osteoarthritis

Deltoid – Triangular; resembling the Greek letter, delta

Diagnosis – Recognition of disease from symptoms

Diaphysis – Shaft of a bone

Diarthrosis – A freely movable joint; plural diarthroses

Digit – “Of a digit”

Digitorum – “Of the Digits”

Disarticulate – Amputate or separate at a joint

Dislocation – The displacement of any part, especially the removal temporarily of a bone from its normal position in a joint

Distal – Situated farthest from the body (in reference to the limbs)

Dorsal – The back side or situated near the back

Dorsiflex – To turn toward the back; opposite of plantar flex

Dystrophy – Abnormal development, degeneration of muscle, weakening

Edema – Accumulation of abnormal quantities of fluid in spaces between the cells of the body. Edema can accumulate in almost any location in the body. Most common sites include the feet and ankles

Effusion – The accumulation of fluid in a joint

Endosteum – Tissue surrounding the medullary cavity of bone

Epi – A prefix meaning “on” or “above”; opposite of hypo

Epicondyle – A prominence on a bone above or upon a condyle

Epiphyseal line – Cartilaginous growth plate; growing center to provide length of bone; disappears when bone obtains its full growth

Epiphysis – A part or process of a bone which ossifies separately before making osseous union with the main portion of the bone

Etiology – The study of the causes of disease –

Eversion – The act of turning outward; to evert, opposite of inversion

Evert – To turn out; to turn the sole of the foot outward; opposite of invert

Extension – A movement at a joint bringing the two parts into or toward a straight line from a flexed position; opposite of flexion

Extension – Straightening or stretching out, increasing the angle between body part

Extensor – A muscle serving to extend a bodily part

External Rotation – Denotes a turning movement of a limb away from the body

External – On the surface or outer side; opposite of internal

External – without, outside

Extra – Prefix meaning “outside of”, opposite of intra

Extremity – An arm or leg

Fascia – A thick band of fibrous tissue

Fat Pad Atrophy – Also know by “thinning of the fat pad”, this condition is characterized by a decrease in the size, or wasting away of the layer of body fat that is normally present to protect the metatarsal phalangeal heads; can also occur in the heel.

Femoral Condyles – The distal end of the femur that joins to the knee

Femur – Thigh; bone of the thigh; the longest and largest bone of the human body that extends from the hip to the knee

Fibrosis – The formation of fibrous tissue. Fibrosis is caused by many factors including injury, inflammation and infection

Fibrositis – An inflammatory condition affecting connective tissue and muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons. Fibrositis has many causes, including repeated injury, infections or overuse of a part

Fibula – Smaller bone of leg; the splint bone

Flexion – Bending or decreasing the angle between parts of the body

Flexor – A muscle serving to bend a body part

Flexure – The curved or bent part of a structure

Fluoroscope – An instrument for presenting a luminous image during a roentgenoscopic examination

Foramen – A hole; plural, foramina or foramens

Fossa – A pit or hollow; plural, fossae

Fracture – A break in the continuity of a bone

Genu – Knee

Glenoid – Resembling a pit or pocket. The glenoid fossa of the scapula is very shallow.

Hallux – The great toe; hallucis “of the great toe”

Head – Large, rounded anticular end of bone

Heel Spur – A hard bony shelf as wide as the width of the heelbone caused by repeated pulling away of periosteum from the heelbone (calcaneous). The repeated stress or injury causes inflammation and calcification of tendons and ligaments in the foot

Homeostasis – A tendency to uniformity or stability in the normal body states of the organism

Humerus – The upper arm bone

Hyaline – Glassy and transparent or nearly so

Hyper – Prefix meaning above; opposite of hypo

Hyperextension – To extend so that the angle between bones of a joint is greater than normal

Hyperplasia – Increase in size of a tissue or organ due to an increase in the number of cells

Hypertrophy – Increase in the size of a tissue or organ due to an increase in the size or number of its constituent cells

Hypo – A prefix meaning below or under; opposite of epi or hyper

Ilium – The bone of the flank; adjective is iliac; ilio is the combining form

Immobilize – To fix so as to reduce or eliminate motion

Index – Referring to the forefinger or “pointing” finger

Indication – A symptom or condition that indicates a necessity of a specific medical treatment or procedure

Inferior – Situated or placed below; opposite of superior; inferioris, a Latin form of the adjective

Inflammation – A response from an injury that may be characterized by redness, heat, pain, swelling and loss of function

Infra – A prefix meaning “beneath”; opposite of supra

Instrument – A tool or implement used in surgery

Inter – A prefix meaning “between”

Internal Rotation – In the limbs a turning movement towards the midline or the body

Internal – Within or on the inside

Intramedullary – Within the medullary canal

Inversion – The act of turning inward; opposite of eversion

Invert – To turn in; to turn the sole of the foot inward; opposite of evert

Ischium – Bone of the hip; adjective is ischiatic

Isthmus – Narrowest portion of the medullary canal

Kinematic – Of or pertaining to motion

Kyphosis – An abnormal condition of the spine; posterior curve

Lateral – Situated to the side, farthest from the midline of the body

Lateral Collateral Ligament – The ligament that runs from the lateral femoral condyle to the fibular head in the knee

Ligament – Fibrous connective tissue connecting the articular ends of bones serving to bind them together and to facilitate or limit motion

Lordoris – Abnormal anterior convexity of the spine (swayback)

Lumbar – Relating to the lower back region

Lumen – Space within a tube of organ

Lunate – A bone of the carpus shaped like a crescent moon

Luxation – Bones in a joint that are no longer in the correct functional position to each other, same as dislocation

Malleolus – The rounded projection on the ankle, on both sides – lateral and medial

Medial – Closer to the center of midline of the body

Medial Collateral Ligament – Refers to the restraint structure at the innermost portion (side) of the knee joint

Meniscus – The crescent shaped cartilage between the femur and tibia

Menisectomy – Removal of the meniscus cartilage of the knee

Metatarsal – The part of the foot between the tarsus and the toes

Metatarsus – “Beyond the instep”; the five bones of the foot between the toes and tarsal bones

Muscle – Contractual tissue that moves joints. Controls skeletal support, balance, etc

Musculoskeletal – Relating to both musculature and skeleton

Navicular – Boat – shaped

Necrosis – Death of areas of tissue or bone surrounded by healthy tissue

Nonunion – Failure of broken bone fragments to unite

O.R.I.F. – Open reduction, internal fixation

Oblique – Slanting; between horizontal and vertical in direction; Latin adjective, obliquus

Olecranon – From the Greek word for elbow

Open Reduction – Surgical procedure to reduce fracture and perhaps apply fixation devices

Opposition – Movement by which the thumb pad is brought to a finger pad and held there

Opposition – The act of opposing one part to another

Orbital – Pertaining to the orbit

Organ – A group of tissue having a special function

Orthopedist – A specialist in orthopedics

Orthopedics – Branch of medical science that deals with treatment of disorders involving locomotor structures of the body, especially the skeleton, joints, muscle and fascia

Orthopedics – Medical specialty that treats diseases and conditions of the muscular skeletal system

Os – Bone of coxae – hip bone

Osgood – Schlatter Disease (Osteochronrosis) – “Growing pain” at the knee, a temporary condition affecting adolescents who exercise vigorously. The powerful quadriceps muscles of the thigh attach to the tibia at a growth zone, a relatively vulnerable area of bone. Pain, tenderness and swelling occur at this point with repeated stress

Osmosis – Passage of fluid across a membrane from a lesser to a more highly concentrated solution

Ossification – Formation of bone

Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease) – Arthritis of middle age characterized by degenerative and sometimes hypertrophic changes in the bone and cartilage of one or more joints and a progressive wearing down of opposing joint surfaces with consequent distortion of joint positioning usually without bony stiffening

Osteoblast – Bone forming cells

Osteoclast – Bone absorbing cells

Osteomalacia – A condition characterized by softening of the bones. Symptoms include pain tenderness, muscle weakness and weight loss The cause is a deficiency in vitamin D and calcium

Osteomyelitis – Invasion of bone by disease producing micro – organism

Osteoporosis – Loss of normal bone density, mass and strength, leading to increased porousness and vulnerability to fracture

Osteotomy – Cutting and repositioning bone to more functional position

Para – Prefix meaning “beside”, “accessory to” or “hear”

Patella – The kneecap

Patella Tendon – The tendon extending from the patella and attaching at the tibial crest (tubercle)

Patella Tracking – Refers to the path that the patella follows within the trochlear notch as in a pulley system

Pedal – Pertainng to the foot

Pelvis – A basin or basin – like structure

Periosteum – Outer layer contains blood vessels that connect with those in the bone; inner layer contains cells that produce new bone for reproduction or reconstruction of cortical or compact bone

Peri – Prefix meaning “around”

Pes – The foot; pedis, “of the foot”

Phalanges – Plural of phalanx, which refers to any bone of finger or toe

Piriformis – Pyramid – shaped

Plantar – Pertaining to the sole of the foot; plantaris; Latin adjective plantae, “of the sole of the foot”

Plantar Fasciitis – A partial or complete tear in the fascia (fibrous connective tissue) of the bottom of the foot. It is characterized by pain just under the heel bone

Plantar Flexion – Bending or pointing the toe toward the floor

Plasma – Fluid portion of the blood

Popliteal Space – The posterior aspect of the knee joint

Posterior – Situated behind or toward the back; opposite of anterior

Posterior Cruciate Ligament – This ligament prevents posterior subluxation of the tibia on the femur. It runs between the lateral aspect of the medial femoral condyle to its point of insertion below the joint line on the posterior aspect of the tibia

Process – A slender projecting point; Latin, processus

Prognosis – Prediction of course and end of disease and outlook based on it

Pronate – To turn palm downward

Pronation – Movement of the forearm and hand which puts the palm face down

Prone – The body lying on its belly

Prosthesis – Replacement of a missing part by an artificial substitute

Proximal – Situated nearest the body (used in reference to the limbs of the body)

Pseudo – A prefix signifying “false”

Pseudoarthrosis – A false joint developing after a fracture that has not united

Pubis – Pubic bone

Quadriceps – Refers to the muscles on the anterior portion of the thigh which extends the knee

Radius – A bone of the forearm which rotates

Reduction – Restoration to normal position

Retract – To pull back; opposite of protract

Retroflexion – A backward bending of one part of an organ on another portion; opposite of anteflexion

Retro – Prefix meaning behind

Retroversion – A backward turning; the entire organ is turned backward; opposite of anteversion

Rheumatoid Arthritis – A usually chronic disease that is of unknown cause and is characterized by pain, stiffness, inflammation, swelling and sometimes destruction of joints

Rotation – The act of turning about a centrally located length axis; internal – toward midline of body; external -away from midline of body

Rotator Cuff – A structure around the shoulder joint capsule composed of intermingled muscle and tendon fibers. The rotator cull provides stability and strength to the shoulder joint

Rupture – Forcible tearing or disruption of a tissue

Sac – Any bag – like organ

Sacrum – Five fused vertebrae below the last lumbar vertebra

Sagittal – Pertaining to the median vertical plane of the body

Scaphoid – Carpal bone

Scapula – The shoulder blade

Scoliosis – Curvature of the spine

Semilunar – Shaped like a half moon

Separation – The act or process of separating (to become isolated)

Septic – Infection due to presence of pathogenic organisms

Serrated – Having a saw – tooth edge

Serum – Clear portion of any animal fluid

Simple Fracture – No open wound at fracture site

Sinus – A cavity

Skeletal traction – Pull on a limb by the use of a pin through the bone

Skeleton – The hard framework of the body. In man, the bones of the body collectively

Soft Tissue – All tissue of the body except bone

Spine – A pointed projecting part

Spinous – A spine – like process; Latin adjective, spinatus

Splint – A a rigid support made from metal, plaster or plastic and used to immobilize an injured or inflamed part of the body

Sprain – A sudden or violent twist or wrench of a joint causing the stretching or twisting of ligaments and often rupture of blood vessels with hemorrhage to the tissues

Stabilize – To become stable or steady

Sternum – The breast bone

Strain – The amount of deformation the material experiences per unit of original length in response to stress

Stress – The force that a material is subjected to per unit of original area

Subclavian – Beneath the clavicle

Subluxation – A partial or incomplete dislocation

Submaxillary – Beneath the mandible

Sub – Prefix meaning “below” or “beneath”

Subscapular – Beneath the scapula

Subtrochanteric – Lower edge of lesser trochanter and slightly below

Sumphysis – A growing together

Superficial – On or near the surface

Superior – Higher; opposite of inferior; superioris, a Latin form of the adjective

Supinate – To turn the palm of the hand upward

Supination – Rotating a hand or foot outward on its long axis. The movement is done with the muscles in the forearm or lower leg

Supine – Lying flat on the back

Supine – The body lying on its back

Supra – Prefix meaning “above”; super has meaning; opposite of sub

Synarthrosis – An immovable joint

Synchondrosis – A union of bones by means of cartilage

Syndesmosis – A union of bones by means of a ligament or membrane

Synovectomy – Excision of synovial membrane

Synovial fluid – Nourishes and feeds cartilaginous surface of joints. Is the lubricator. Helps keep cartilage near friction – free

Synovia – Literally “with egg”; the fluid resembles egg white

Synovium – Inner lining membrane of joint; both secretory and absorbative organ

Talus – The ankle; a bone of the ankle

Tarsus – (1) The instep; the seven bones forming the back portion of the foot (2) Connective tissue framework of the eyelids

Tendon – Fibrous connective tissue serving for the attachment of muscles to bones and other parts

Tendonitis – Inflammation of a tendon

Tendon sheath – Protective coating for tendon in areas where it crosses to a movable joint, or curves around a bony prominence

Tenosynovitis – Inflammation of a tendon sheath

Thoracic – Pertaining to the chest; thoracico or thoraco, combining forms

Tibia – Latin name of shin bone

Tibial – Pertaining to the tibia; Latin adjective, tibialis

Tibial Tubercle – A bony prominence of the anterior side of the tibia which serves as an attachment point for the patellar tendon

Tissue – A collection of similar cells specialized to perform a particular function

Trabecular pattern – Arrangement of spongy bone to conform to stresses or force

Trauma – A wound or injury

Trochanter – Either of two bony processes of the upper femoral shaft for muscle attachment

Trochanteric – Bone between lateral attachment of hip capsule and lesser trochanter

Tubercle – A small round elevation or prominence on a bone

Tuberosity – A broad eminence on a bone

Ulna – The inner and larger bone of the forearm, between the wrist and the elbow, on the side opposite that of the thumb

Valgus – A term denoting position meaning bent outward or twisted (knock – knee), applied especially to deformities in which a part is bent outward. Also increased femoral head – neck angle

Varus – 1)Turned inward; bowlegged 2) A condition in which a clubfooted person walks on outer border of the foot. Also, decreased femoral head – neck angle

Vascular – Pertaining to or containing blood vessels

Vastus – Wide or great

Ventral – The belly side or situated near that side

Vertex – The summit or apex

Viscous – Sticky or gummy

Vitreous – Glassy

Voluntary – Performed in accordance with the will; opposite of involuntary