Chiropractic Glossary

A
Activator Adjusting Instrument A handheld instrument used by chiropractors to tap slightly misaligned vertebrae back into place.
Acute Back Pain Back pain that typically lasts for a few days to several weeks. Back pain that persists for several months or longer is referred to as chronic back pain.
Adjustment The application chiropractic forces intended to correct nerve interference and mitigate the related pain.
Atlas The Atlas is the topmost vertebra of the neck. Misalignment of the atlas can place stress on your neuromusculoskeletal system.
Atlas orthogonal technique (A.O.T.) One of many methods for correcting cervical "subluxations".
Atlas Subluxation Complex (ASC) One of the more common serious vertebral misalignment conditions. Chiropractors who practice specific "upper cervical techniques" focus on the ASC.
Axis Axis is another name for the second cervical vertebra in the neck. This is an important joint that contributes significantly to your neck's range of motion.
B
Barge analysis A technique used to identify shifting of a disk nucleus, thought to cause tortipelvis/torticollis, spinal distortions, or curvatures. Rotation of a spinous process toward the wide side of a disk space on the concave side of a spinal curve (the opposite of what is normally seen) is thought to indicate that the disk is improperly centered.
Biomechanics The body's mechanics, such as how muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones interact to produce movement. Also the study of the forces exerted by muscles and gravity on the skeletal structure.
"Big Idea" The chiropractic concept that the body heals itself when interference to the proper functioning of the nervous system is removed.
Blair Upper Cervical Technique A technique that concentrates on correction of vertebral misalignments at the top of the neck as a method of removing nerve interference in the spine. A "Blair head clamp" is used to position the head for cervical x-ray examination.
C
Carver Technique A method developed by Willard Carver in which traction and pressure is applied to the spine just before making a manual thrust.
Cavitation A popping sound that occurs in a spinal joint when vertebral facets are separated, creating a vacuum that draws in nitrogen gas.
Cervical Vertebrae The upper portion of your spine containing the seven vertebrae that makes up the neck.
Chiropractic A primary health care profession focused on the anatomy of the spine and immediate articulation, and the condition of nerve interference. Chiropractic is from Greek words meaning "done by hand". It is also a practice, which encompasses educating, advising about and addressing nerve interference.
Chronic back pain A back pain episode that lasts more than three months. Shorter term back pain is known as acute back pain.
Coccyx The coccyx is composed of four separate but fused vertebrae that make up the bottom of your spine. The common name for the coccyx is the tailbone.
Concept Therapy A method of using a positive state of mind to help "innate intelligence" heal the body and make any chiropractic procedure more effective.
Cox flexion-distraction technique A technique performed by a chiropractor that involves stretching specific spinal segments generally with the assistance of a movable table.
D
DC or D.C. Abbreviation for "doctor of chiropractic".
Diagnosis A comprehensive assessment of the spinal column and its immediate articulation to determine the presence of nerve interference and other conditions that can be treated through chiropractic procedures.
Dynamic thrust A forceful chiropractic adjustment intended to move vertebrae. Often a popping sound will result from this procedure.
E
Examination The discovery process used to evaluate the patient's complaints and symptoms.
F
Flexion-distraction Technique A method of stretching the spine while in a face-down position on a table that allows manually applied flexion and traction to be applied to specific spinal sections.
Full-spine Technique Method of adjusting, stretching or manipulating any of the vertebrae from the neck down.
G
Gonstead technique A system of correcting pelvic and sacral "subluxations" to correct secondary subluxations elsewhere in the spine. Problem areas are located by motion palpation and skin-temperature instrument measurement and "confirmed" with full-spine x-ray examination.
Grostic procedure Upper cervical technique that uses x-ray examination to measure and detect misalignment between the atlas and the skull.
H
Hole-in-One (H.I.O.) Method of adjusting the atlas (the topmost vertebra at the base of the skull). This is thought to improve health and facilitate correction of subluxations elsewhere in the spine.
I
Innate Intelligence The inborn ability of the body to heal itself and the forces responsible for the organization, maintenance and healing of the body. When the spine is in correct alignment, Innate Intelligence can act, by way of the nervous system, to heal disease within the body.
Intervertebral Disk The cartilage located between sections of the vertebrae. This provides a cushion between each disk of the vertebrae.
J
Joint A meeting point of two or more bones that functions as a hinge. Joints may sometimes get stiff or subluxated.
K
Kale Method A variety of upper cervical adjustment in which a "toggle adjustment," or a sudden, shallow thrust is applied to the side of the neck to correct atlas subluxations.
L
Ligament A tough, supportive band of tissue that connects various structures such as two bones.
Locked Spinal Joint A binding that occurs when two joint surfaces go out of alignment. Generally this us caused by a sudden movement, fall or accident. This is usually accompanied by muscle spasms and may result in a "locked back".
Logan Method A nonthrusting method in which thumb pressure is used to correct sacral subluxations and leg deficiency.
Long Lever Manipulation A method of spinal manipulation involving procedures used to stretch or loosen several vertebrae at the same time.
Low Force Technique A technique used in some cases instead of a "Dynamic Thrust" or other high-force manipulation. Low force techniques generally involve an "adjusting machine" or a "reflex technique".
Lumbar The vertebrae of the lower back, usually consisting of five bone segments.
Lumbo-Pelvic Techniques Technique used to adjust any "manipulative lesion" or abnormal subluxation in the joints of the lumbar spine or pelvis. Lumbo-pelvic distortions are often caused by leg-length differences, postural adjustments, tilting of the lumbar vertebrae, loss of mobility, and other "lesions" that require manipulations over the pelvis and lower back.
Lumbosacral Strain An injury or pain in the joints at the base of the spine.
M
Maintenance Care A preventative care program suggested by a chiropractor to help the patient maintain good health.
Manipulation A technique employed by chiropractors that results in the movement of a joint.
Meric System Chiropractic system based on the knowledge that certain spinal joints are associated with certain organs, requiring adjustment of specific vertebrae for certain diseases.
Migraine Headache Doctors of Chiropractic have discovered a common reason for migraine headaches is cervical spinal degeneration, a misalignment and straightening of the neck that puts pressure on the nerves and arteries, causing them to swell. With less blood and oxygen reaching the brain a headache develops.
Mixer A chiropractor that uses modalities such as physical therapy and massage techniques in addition to manual manipulation of the spine.
Mobilization A low-velocity method of manipulation, movement, or stretching to increase range of motion in muscles and joints.
Modalities Therapy performed before or after a chiropractic adjustment. Including physical therapy, hot or cold therapies, massage and muscle stimulation.
Motion Palpation A method for locating fixations and loss of mobility in the spine by feeling the motion of specific spinal segments during movement.
Muscle Contractile tissue that allows body parts to move.
Musculoskeletal Pertaining to structures of the body that include muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
N
Nerve Root One of the two nerve endings emerging from the spinal cord that join to form the segmental spinal nerve.
Nervo-Scope A handheld, dual-probe thermocouple device used to locate "subluxations" by measuring skin temperature on either side of the spine.
Neural Organization Technique (NOT) A method purported to "organize" the nervous system and activate helpful reflexes by using applied kinesiology muscle-testing to identify and correct food allergies and dysfunctions thought to affect the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain.
Nimmo Method Applying digital pressure on trigger points to relax muscles thought to be pulling vertebrae out of alignment.
Non-force Technique Muscle treatments and reflex techniques that do not include the use of force.
O
Obliques Side muscles that stabilize your spine when you are standing upright, and help rotate your spine and maintain proper posture and spinal curvature.
Osteoarthritis A degenerative form of arthritis that mostly affects the elderly. Osteoarthritis may affect the spine's facet joints, causing pain when bending or twisting. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to break down and move away from the joints causing the joints to begin rubbing against each other, resulting in pain and impeding movement.
Osteoporosis A gradual disintegration of bone mass and density. Osteoporosis make the bones highly susceptible to fractures. Osteoporosis can have a devastating impact on the joints and vertebrae of your spine.
P
Palpation A chiropractic spinal examination using the fingers.
Paresthesia The loss of feeling or normal sensation in a certain area of the body.
Pettibone Method This is an upper cervical adjustive technique that uses a special instrument to adjust the atlas.
Physical Therapy Various treatment that uses equipment to build up strength and help reduce pain.
Piriformis Syndrome A condition caused by the sciatic nerve getting pinched as it exits the spinal column. Piriformis syndrome sometimes causes pain along the back of the thigh to the knee, or loss of feeling in the soles of the feet.
Preventative Care Chiropractic care and patient maintenance designed to prevent a condition from worsening or returning.
Q
There are no Q words in our chiropractic glossary.
R
Range of Motion The range of movement of a joint, measured in degrees of a circle.
Rheumatoid Arthritis An advanced form of arthritis that causes inflammation of the joint tissues. This leads to pain, weakness, low red-blood cell count (anemia) and often loss of appetite.
S
S.M.T. Spinal Manipulative Therapy
Sacroiliac Joint The spinal joint that connects the bottom of the spine with the pelvic bone.
Sacrum A triangular shaped bone situated at the base of the spinal column that connects the pelvic bones.
Scheuermann's Disease A hunchback appearance of the spine may be a sign of a condition caused by a deformity of the roundback portion of the thoracic spine.
Sciatica Inflammation of the sciatic nerve resulting in pain in the leg and lower back. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, and difficulty in moving or controlling the leg. Typically, the symptoms are only felt on one side of the body.
Scoliosis A condition where the spine has lateral curvature (side-to-side) as seen from the back.
SEMG - Surface Electromyography A procedure used to measure the skin's temperature and electrical activity in the muscles surrounding the spine.
Short-lever Manipulation A method of spinal manipulation in which the chiropractor applies contact to a single vertebra in order to adjust it.
Spinal Adjustment The process of correcting a spinal subluxation.
Spinal Cord A longitudinal structure of nerves and tissue that extends from the brainstem to the tailbone.
Spinal Manipulation A thrust that stretches vertebra in order to increase spinal mobility.
Spine Your spine supports your body and protects the delicate spinal cord and nerves. The spine is made up of 33 vertebrae, grouped into different categories based on location and anatomy. These locations are the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal regions.
Spur Spurs, also known as osteophytes, are bony projections that develop along the edges of bones, often the result of an injury.
Subluxation Subluxation is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position. This creates pressure on the spinal nerves that come out from between each of the bones in your spine. This pressure or irritation on the nerves can cause these nerves to malfunction and interfere with the electrical impulses passed through these nerves. Most subluxations cause no pain, so generally many people are not aware of them. Subluxations physically cause your spine to wear unevenly, which leads to early degeneration and break down of the spine.
Sweat Method A technique in which the atlas is adjusted using a specially designed table and a solenoid stylus placed against the side of the neck just behind and below the ear.
T
Tendon A fibrous cord by which a muscle is attached.
Thermography A procedure used to image the body based on the temperature of the heat radiating off the skin surface.
Thompson Terminal Point Technique A chiropractic adjustment performed on a table in which supporting cushions drop an inch or two when a thrust is applied to the spine.
Thoracic Pertaining to the spinal column starting from the base of the neck to about six inches above the waistline.
Thoracic Vertebrae The twelve vertebrae in the upper back (thoracic) portion of the spine.
TMJ Dysfunction A problem with the alignment of the jaw. When the junction of the jaw is out of alignment it can create several problems such as headaches, jaw pain, sinus problems, stiffness in the jaw and muscle tension in the face, head, neck and shoulders.
Toggle Recoil Technique Manipulation performed with a sudden shallow thrust followed by a quick recoil of the chiropractor’s hands while the patient is relaxed.
Torticollis/Tortipelvis Involuntary spasms of the musculature of the spine, in the neck or lower back.
Traction A weighted traction set-up composed of pulleys and lines often used in the care of a patient with broken legs or spine. Either intersegmental or elongation, used to reduce swelling, ease spasms, or assist in the realignment of vertebral segments.
U
Ultrasound High frequency sound waves used to stimulate muscles in the treatment of and injury and to reduce pain or spasms.
Upper Cervical Specific A technique that uses a number of specific chiropractic adjustments designed to correct atlas and upper cervical subluxations.
V
Vax-D - Vertebral Axial Decompression A type of traction utilizing a device that stretches and releases the spine while the patient lies down in a face-down position.
Vertebra The bony segment of the spine that surrounds and protects the spinal cord and nerves. There are seven cervical vertebrae, twelve thoracic vertebrae and five lumbar vertebrae, as well as those that make up the sacrum and the coccyx. The plural of vertebra is vertebrae.
Vertebral Subluxation Also referred to as nerve interference, is a misalignment of one or more vertebrae. This causes alteration of nerve function and interference to the transmission of mental impulses. This weakens the body’s innate ability to express its maximum health potential.
Viscero-Somato Nerve pathways originating in the organs of the body and communicating with the spinal cord.
W
Whiplash Pain or injury in the neck resulting from a sudden forced movement of the head in any direction.
X
There are no X words in our chiropractic glossary.
Y
There are no Y words in our chiropractic glossary.
Z
There are no Z words in our chiropractic glossary.


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