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Glossary of Technical Terms

Table of contents

At all of our Preferred Injury Physicians locations, we love our patients and understand how truly debilitating pain can be. That's why our compassionate physicians and staff continue to enjoy helping countless people recover from their pain and injuries. If you are suffering from pain, we want to help you recover, too. This glossary is here to help you understand the more technical terms we use throughout our website, so you can have a solid understanding of what they mean before you begin your road to recovery.

Activator Adjusting Tool

An activator adjusting tool is a high-speed, low-force chiropractic instrument designed to deliver accurate and consistent thrusts during chiropractic treatments.


Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine derived from traditional Chinese medicine that is most commonly used to treat pain, aid with stress, and improve overall wellness. During treatment, an acupuncturist will insert thin needles into the body at strategic points.

Adjustment / Chiropractic Adjustment

Chiropractic adjustments are typically performed by a chiropractor using their hands to manipulate the joints of the body, especially the spine, in order to restore or improve joint function. Patients often notice positive changes in their symptoms shortly after beginning their chiropractic treatment.


According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, an analgesic is a term used to refer to “any drug that relieves pain selectively without blocking the conduction of nerve impulses, markedly altering sensory perception, or affecting consciousness.”


Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints, which can lead to pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. There are many types of arthritis, the most common of which are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Biomechanical refers to biomechanics, the study of the structure and movement of a living organism, such as a human. Biomechanics are part of the larger field of kinesiology.

Bulging Disc

A bulging disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disk pushes through a crack in the tougher exterior casing. This act can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness, and/or weakness in an arm or leg. Bulging discs are commonly treated by auto injury doctors as they are frequently seen in auto accident victims.


The joints of the body have fluid-filled sacs called bursae which cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near the joints. When those sacs become inflamed, it is called bursitis. Bursitis is most common in joints such as the shoulder, elbow, and hip that perform frequent repetitive motions.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand, which travels through the carpal tunnel passage of the wrist, is squeezed or compressed. This is a very common condition that causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand and arm.


In relation to chiropractic, cervical is used in reference to the neck. Cervical spondylosis, for example, is arthritis of the neck.

Cervicogenic Headache

A cervicogenic headache is a secondary headache caused by an underlying condition involving the neck. There are a number of things that can cause a cervicogenic headache, including whiplash, arthritis, sports injuries, or other neck injuries. They can also be caused by holding one’s head in the same misaligned position for a long period of time.


A chiropractor is a trained health care professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractors are particularly well known for their ability to help patients with lower back pain, mid back pain, neck pain, and even headaches. To be eligible to practice in the United States, chiropractors are required to receive a Doctor of Chiropractic education and maintain a valid state license.

Chiropractic Table

A chiropractic table may be used by a chiropractor to perform adjustments that require extreme skill and precision. There are several types of specially-designed and created chiropractic tables for the many different styles of chiropractic care.

Cold Laser

A cold laser is a handheld chiropractic device that emits non-thermal photons of light through the skin to an affected area, where it is absorbed by the cells. Cold laser therapy is believed to heal damaged tissue, reduce pain, and reduce inflammation.


Literally meaning “cold therapy,” cryotherapy exposes the body to subzero temperatures. Cryotherapy can help with a wide range of ailments, including but not limited to migraine symptoms, irritated nerves, arthritic pain, and even mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. This is a commonly used for of treatment for athletes with sports-related injuries.

CT Scan

A CT scan (or CAT scan) allows doctors to see inside the body through the use of computerized X-ray technology. During a CT scan, images of the body will be taken at varying angles and processed by the computer to create cross-sectional images of the specified area.

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Degenerative disc disease occurs when one or more of the spinal discs between the vertebrae of the spine deteriorate or break down, causing pain, numbness, and/or weakness. The pain from DDD can range from nagging to disabling and exist in the neck, lower back, buttocks, and leg muscles. In some cases, pain, numbness, and tingling caused by DDD can radiate to the arms, hands, legs, and feet.


Diathermy is a therapeutic treatment which stimulates heat generation within body tissues using a high-frequency electrical current. Diathermy is most commonly used to help treat muscle and joint conditions by relieving pain, increasing blood flow, and improving mobility of tissues while they heal.


The term “ergonomics” essentially refers to the study of people in their working environments and is concerned with designing or modifying workplaces to better fit workers’ needs. For example, an ergonomic office chair is one that is designed to properly support a person’s weight, posture, and lumbar while they work at a desk.


Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain and tenderness. It is not uncommon for individuals with fibromyalgia to experience fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues as well.

Herniated Disc

The discs in the spine have soft inner fillings and hard outer cases. A herniated disc is when there is a rupture in the outer layer and some of the inner filling protrudes out of the disk. Many people experience pain with herniated discs because the inner filling has come into contact with one or more nerves, causing pain.


Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response to protect itself from infection, illness, and injury. When a person experiences inflammation, their body is attempting to protect itself by increasing its production of white blood cells and cytokines to help fight any infection and begin healing.

Interferential Therapy (IFT)

Interferential therapy is a type of electrotherapy. IFT treatment treatments stimulate tissues by utilizing electrical currents, which can provide patients with pain relief, reduced swelling, and other health benefits.

Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)

Low-level laser therapy red and near infrared light to reduce inflammation, improve soft tissue healing, and relieve both acute and chronic pain.


Pertaining to the abdominal section of the torso, lumbar is most commonly used in chiropractic to refer to a person’s lower back.

Chiropractic Massage

When done continuously as part of chiropractic treatment, chiropractic massage can help the body recover from injuries more quickly and effectively than chiropractic care alone.


Yes, chiropractors are able to treat migraines, a recurring headache that causes moderate to severe throbbing or pulsing pain, often on one side of the head. Migraines can cause other symptoms, including weakness, nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound.


Spinal misalignment, a common cause of long-term low back pain and scoliosis, occurs when the spine is out of its proper alignment. The body naturally maintains a (relatively) straight line—from head, to shoulders, to hips, to knees, to feet.


MRI is an initialism for magnetic resonance imaging, a medical technique that uses computer-generated radio waves and a magnetic field to create detailed images of the body’s internal organs and tissues.

Muscle Spasm

A muscle spasm occurs when a muscle involuntarily contracts. This event is usually harmless and temporary, but in some cases may cause severe pain.


In relation to chiropractic care, noninvasive refers to how chiropractic treatment is performed; while surgery requires an area of the body to be opened up and worked on with instruments inside it, chiropractic care does not. In fact, chiropractic is often used as an alternative to surgery and has helped countless patients recovery from a variety of conditions without the need of invasive surgery.

Peripheral Neuropathy

When the nerves in the brain and spinal cord that connect to the rest of the body malfunction because they are damaged or destroyed, peripheral neuropathy occurs. This disorder disrupts the nerves’ normal functioning by either sending signals of pain when there is no source of pain, or by not sending signals of pain when they should.

Physical Therapy

Provided by a licensed physical therapist, physical therapy is a specialty of healthcare that involves the evaluation, assessment, and noninvasive treatment of limitations to the body’s mobility.

PIP / PIP Insurance

PIP stands for personal injury protection. PIP insurance is a protection-based policy for auto accident victims that is legally mandatory for all vehicle owners in Florida.


Sciatica is a type of back pain caused by an injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down the back of each leg. Sciatica is known to cause lower back pain, which may spread to the hips, buttocks, or legs.


Scoliosis is a medical diagnosis of the spine where a person’s spinal curvature has reached more than 10 degrees, forming a more noticeable S- or C-shape than that of a properly aligned spine.

Slip and Fall

A slip and fall is a type of personal injury that happens exactly as it sounds—by slipping and falling. Depending on the extent of the fall and the health of the person falling, slip and fall injuries can range from as small as a scrape to as serious as a concussion or broken bones.

Spinal Adjustment

A spinal adjustment is a type of spinal manipulation treatment used by chiropractors.

Spinal Decompression (Therapy)

Spinal decompression therapy creates space between each vertebrate to reposition a specific spinal disc, which alleviates pressure on the nerves while relieving pain and numbness.

Spinal Manipulation

During spinal manipulation, a chiropractor uses their hands to apply a sudden yet controlled force to a specific joint.


Spondylolisthesis is a spinal disorder in which one of the lower vertebrae slips forward onto the bone directly beneath it.


A sprain occurs when a ligament—the tissue connecting bones and joints—is stretched or torn.


Sometimes called a pulled muscle, a strain occurs when a muscle is stretched too much, resulting in a torn muscle.


A subluxation is a partial dislocation of a joint (or organ).


Tendonitis occurs when a tendon—the tissue that connects muscles to bones—is inflamed or irritated, causing pain around a joint.

TENS Machine

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) machines are small devices that send stimulating pulses along nerves and over the surface of the skin, which help to minimize pain.

Thorax / Thoracic

The thoracic area of the spine runs from the base of the neck to the abdomen.


TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge-like joint connecting the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorders can cause pain in the jaw joint and associated muscles.

Ultrasound Therapy

In a chiropractic setting, ultrasound therapy uses sound waves to administer heat deep into affected tissues, reducing muscle pain and movement dysfunction.


Whiplash, a common type of car accident injury, is a neck injury that occurs when the body is suddenly thrust forward and backward while the head is unrestrained. The symptoms of whiplash can include neck pain, dizziness, numbness around the neck, and more.

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