Aberrant Motion- Movement that has deviated from normal biomechanics.

Acute Pain- Usually attributed to soft tissue damage, such as muscle, tendon and ligaments. A sprained ankle is an example of acute pain. It generally lasts less than three to five months. Acute pain is usually severe and sharp.  Acute Facet joint sprain in the back and neck usually presents as sharp on movement with a constant dull ache.

Adduction- Movement towards the midline of the body.

Agonist- Muscles or muscle groups attached anatomically that when they contract they compliment or reinforce each other.

Antagonist- Muscles or muscle groups attached anatomically that when they contract they oppose each other.

Antalgic- An abnormal posture or gait assumed to avoid or lessen pain.

Anterior- Nearer to the front of the body.

Anthropomorphic- The measurement of human physical dimensions and the relationships these measurements have with performance.

Articulation- In anatomy, a joint formed by cartilage and fibrous tissue. For the purpose of movement and motion.

Atlas- In Anatomy the Atlas or (C1) is the top vertebra of the spine. It supports the head at the base of the skull and along with C2 the Axis vertebra a greater range of motion is achieved. Its morphology allows for head nodding and rotation. It’s named after the Greek Mythological character Atlas who supported the world on his shoulders.

Atrophy- This refers to a shrinkage in the size of the cells, by loss of cell substance. Causes of atrophy are decreased workload, loss of nerve supply, inadequate nutrition and loss of hormonal stimulation.

Axis of rotation- The axis at which a body appears to rotate.


Back pain- Any pain in the low or upper back. Characterised by continuous pain and tenderness in the bony spine, discs, muscles, ligaments and nerves.

Baseline Measures of a Patient’s Functional Ability- Base line measures are required so as to assess changes and improvements in the patient’s condition and functional ability. These measures assess the patient’s response and progress in relation to the therapy given.

Measures can be either Subjective or Objective. Subjective measures are based upon the the patient’s perception, e.g.. description of symptoms and their ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL’s).

Objective measures include physical examination tests, eg. flexibility, range of motion, strength, orthopaedic and neurological tests.

Biomechanics- The science that studies the influence of forces of biological systems. To produce movement.

Bones- The function of bones are classified as mechanical, mineral storage and hemopoietic. The mechanical function includes protection of the brain, spinal cord and chest organs, internal support for the limbs and levers fro skeletal muscles. Bone is the major reservoir for calcium, phosphate, magnesium and sodium. It also serves as host for the hemopoietic bone marrow.

Bone can be both an organ and a tissue. the “organ” is composed of bone tissue, cartilage, fat, marrow, vessels, nerves and fibrous tissue. Bone”tissue” is defined by the relation of it collagen and mineral structure.

Bruxism- Clenching of the teeth, resulting in rubbing, gritting and grinding together of the teeth. Usually during sleep.

Bulging Disc- Is a condition affecting the spine, where the outer fibrous ring of the disc are still intact and the soft central portion of the disc does not escape beyond these other layers. A deformity of the disc occurs under pressure.

Bursae- Is a fluid filled sac (Synovial fluid is similar to raw egg white). It acts as a cushion and reduces friction between bones and tendons, allowing for free movement. They are located around most major joints of the body.

Bursitis- Inflammation of the Bursae. Symptoms include localised warmth and erythema, joint pain ranging from stiffness to stinging around the affected joint. Usually worse after use of the joint.


Cairns- The location of our practice, Cairns Chiropractor.

Calcification- The accumulation of calcium salts in dead tissue, dying tissue and sometimes normal tissue.

Chiropractic- Is an allied health profession that diagnosis and treats mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Chiropractor- A healthcare professional who practises Chiropractic. Specialising in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of neuromusculoskeletal system.

Clinical impression- A working hypothesis formulated from significant items in patient’s history and physical findings.

Clinical Justification- The ability to demonstrate and justify that the prescribed care will be helpful, necessary and appropriate. Clinical justification is required for care to continue. Consideration must be given as to whether other forms of care could assist with better outcomes.

Concentric contraction- A contraction where the force is directed towards the center of the muscle, that is, the muscle shortens while contracting.


D.C- Abbreviation for “Doctor of Chiropractic”

Degenerative disc disease- As the spine naturally ages, the spinal discs degenerate. Which diminishes the efficiency of the spinal joint. This may lead to pain in some cases. (A degenerated disc is not actually a disease.)

Diagnosis- The scientific method of identifying which disease or condition describes a persons signs and symptoms.

Differential Diagnosis- Distinguishing between two or more diseases with similar symptoms and systematically comparing the signs and symptoms.

Dynamics- The mechanics of bodies in motion.


Eccentric Contraction- A contraction in which the muscle force is directed away from the center of the muscle. The muscle lengthens while contracting.

Enthesitis- Reoccurring trauma at the insertions of muscles. Where continuous stress provokes inflammation and a strong tendency for calcification and fibrosis.

Enthesopathy- A disease process at musculotendinous junctions and where tendons and ligaments attach to bones or joint capsules. Characterised by tenderness and may develop into enthesitis.

Ergonomics- The study of factors influencing human work, especially in occupational environments.

Erector Spinae Muscles-A group of muscles consisting of the Spinals, Longissimus and Illiocostal muscles. They are the longest, most longitudinal and most superficial of the paraspinal musculature.

Extension- The straightening of hinge joints. Its the movement in the posterior direction, with the exception of the Knee.


Flexion-The bending of hinge joints.its movement in the anterior direction, With the exception of the knee.

Force- The action of one body on another.

Friction- A force caused by the transverse. A sheering interaction of two surfaces.

Functional Unit- A group of agonist and antagonist muscles that function together as a unit, because they share common spinal-reflex responses.


Goniometer- A device for measuring joint angles.


Hypertrophy- An increase in the size of cells and therefor an increase in the size of that organ. The major tissues involved in hypertrophy is skeletal and cardiac muscle.

Hyperesthesia- Increased sensitivity to stimulation.

Hyperpathia- A painful syndrome characterised by abnormally painful reactions to a stimulus, especially repetitive stimuli.

Hyperalgesia- An increased pain response to a stimulus that is normally painful.

Hypoalgeisa- Diminished pain in response to a normal painful stimulus.


Inferior- Towards to soles of the feet; Opposite of superior.

Inflammation- The body’s response to injured tissue. The process involves neurological, vascular, humoral and cellular reactions at the site of injury. It aims to confine the injury and set in motion a series of events to heal the damaged tissue.  Acute Inflammation- Begins almost immediately. Symptoms include: redness, swelling, heat, pain and loss of function.

Chronic Inflammation- Self perpetuating, can last for months or years. Evoked by low grade persistent irritants. Often severe and progressive.

Involved muscle-  Muscle that has developed one or more trigger points.


Joints- A joint or articulation is the union between two or more bones. The morphology varies with the function of that joint. There are two types of joints: Synovial: Which is a movable joint lined with a synovial membrane, such as a knee joint. Synarthrosis: A joint that has little movement.

Joint play- Small amounts of movements within synovial joints, that cannot be induced by voluntary muscle contraction. Essential for normal, pain-free non restrictive movements of the joint.


Lateral- Farther from the midline of the body.

Low Back Pain- Pain in the lumbar, sacral and/or gluteal regions.  A descriptive term that does not identify cause or diagnosis.

Lumbago- Pain in the mid and lower back. A descriptive term that does not identify cause or diagnosis.


Medial- Closer to the midline of the body.


Occipitoatlantal joint- the junction between the occiput (base of skull,) and the Atlas vertebrae.

Osteoarthritis- A slow progressive destruction of the articular cartilage that occurs in the weight bering joints and fingers of older people and young people subjected to trauma.

Osteoporosis- A metabolic bone disease, in which normally mineralised bone is decreased in mass to the point where it no longer provides adequate support.


Passive range of motion- The range of movement (usually given as a test) of a joint when movement is produced by an outside force. Without voluntary assistance or resistance by the person being tested. The person being tested must be relaxed while movement occurs.

Posterior- Towards the back of the body. Opposite of anterior.

Prone- Lying face down; Opposite of supine.

Proximal- Closer to the trunk or origin point; Opposite of distal.


Reconstructive care- Ongoing treatment beyond the initial intensive care phase for patients with longer term spinal dysfunction. Throughout this phase of care the patient should be achieving continuing improvement in spinal function as demonstrated by changes in outcome.

Referred Pain- Pain that arises at the site of injury , but is felt at a distance, often entirely remote from its source. The pattern of referred pain is reproducibly related to its site of origin.

Repair- The replacement of dead or damaged cells by healthy cells to restore structure and function. The process includes tissue mending, bone healing, blood clotting and scaring. This results in leaving little to no trace of injury.


Scoliosis- Lateral curvature of the spine.

Spasm- Increased tension with or without shortening of the muscle. Due to involuntary motor nerve activity.

Suboccipital decompression- A tension release procedure for the upper neck. Where pressure is applied at the base of the skull and upper cervical vertebrae, in the anterior direction and traction is applied simultaneously.

Superficial- Closer to the surface; Opposite of deep (profound).

Superior- Towards the head; Opposite of inferior.

Supine- Laying face upwards; Opposite of  prone (facedown).

Supportive Care- Treatment for a patient who has reached maximum improvement, but who doesn’t sustain this improvement and progressively deteriorates when treatment is withdrawn.


Thoracic Outlet- The triangular aperture bounded anteriorly by the Scalenus anterior muscle, posteriorly by the Scalenus medius muscle and inferiorly by the first rib.

Trigger point- A hyperirritable region of skeletal muscle, that presents as a nodule in a taut band of muscle. The spot is painful when compressed and may cause referred pain, tenderness and impaired movement.

Active Trigger point- A trigger point that causes referred pain and prevents full lengthening of the muscle.

Latent Trigger point- A trigger point that is only painful when compressed, a taut band that increases muscle tension and restricts full range of motion.

For more information please contact us at Chiropractor Cairns. Ph: 07 4031 0480