Joint Glossary


Acetabulum             A concave surface of the pelvis where the head of the femur meets with the pelvis

Acetaminophen      An analgesic (pain reliever) used to treat many conditions such as headache, muscle aches, arthritis and backache

Aggrecan                 Aggrecan is the major proteoglycan in the articular cartilage. This molecule is important in the proper functioning of articular cartilage because it provides a hydrated gel structure (via its interaction with hyaluronic acid and a link protein) that endows the cartilage with load-bearing properties. Aggrecan is a multimodular molecule expressed by chondrocytes

Anti-Apoptotic        Anti-apoptotic properties are involved in the regulation of cell death

Anti-Catabolic         Anti-catabolic properties are those which protect muscle mass in the body from being broken down

Antioxidant             Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions

Articular Cartilage Articular cartilage is the smooth, white tissue that covers the ends of bones where they come together to form joints. Healthy cartilage in our joints makes it easier to move. It allows the bones to glide over each other with very little friction

Articulate                 Articulate is to join or connect together loosely to allow motion between the parts

Axial Skeleton        Axial skeleton is part of the skeleton that consists of the bones of the head and trunk of a vertebrate (human)

Bio-Chemical          Relates to the chemical processes and substances which occur within living organisms.  The study of the chemistry behind biological processes and the synthesis of biologically active molecules

Bio-Mechanical      Relates to the mechanical laws concerning the movement or structure of living organisms.  The study of the action of external and internal forces on the living body, especially on the skeletal system

Centrum                   Centrum is the body of a vertebra ventral (front or lower side) to the neural arch

Chondrocytes         Are the only cells found in healthy cartilage. They produce and maintain the cartilaginous matrix, which consists mainly of collagen and  proteoglycans

Collagen                   Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It helps connective tissue to be strong and provides cushioning for various parts of the body

Collagenases           Collagenases are enzymes that break the bonds in collagen. They normally target the connective tissue in muscle cells and other body organs

Connective tissue   Conective tissue is one of four types of biological tissue that supports, connects or separates different types of tissues and organs in the body

Contracture             Contracture is a condition of shortening and hardening of muscles, tendons, or other tissues, often leading to deformity and rigidity of joints

Cytokines                Cytokines are cell signalling molecules that aid cell to cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma

Elastic Fibers          Are bundles of proteins (elastin) found in the extracellular matrix of connective tissue that can stretch up to 1.5 times their length and return to the original length when relaxed

Enzymes                   A substance produced by a living organism which acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction  

Epicondylitis Clasps Epicondylitis clasps compresses tendons and relieves inflammation and elbow pain

Epidural                   Epidural is a route of administration in which a drug is injected into epidural space of the spinal cord

Extracapsular         Extracapsular is something outside a capsule or capsular object

Fibrous Capsule     Fibrous capsule is an envelope surrounding a synovial joint (moving joint) consisting of an outer fibrous layer or membrane and an inner synovial layer or membrane

Free Radicals          Free radicals are atoms, molecules or ions that have an unpaired valence electron. With some exceptions, these unpaired electrons make free radicals highly chemically reactive towards other substances, which can cause the disruption of living cells. Free radical damage accumulates with age

Herniated Discs     Herniated discs occur when the softer interior of the disc pushes out through a tear in the tougher exterior which can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness

Hyaluronic Acid     Integral component of joint fluid and articular cartilage; provides lubrication and shock absorption. Hyaluronic acid polymers are very large (with molecular weights of 100,000–10,000,000) and can displace a large volume of water. The immense size of these molecules makes them excellent lubricators and shock absorbers in the joints

Impingement          Impingement is compression of a nerve or blood vessel through a restricted space

Intervertebral Discs Intervertebral discs lie between adjacent vertebrae in the vertebral column. Each disc forms a fibrocartilaginous (cartilage fibre) joint to allow slight movement of the vertebrae and acts as a ligament to hold the vertebrae together. Also act as shock absorbers in the spine

Intracapsular          Intracapsular is something within a capsule or capsular object

Inversion Therapy Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down taking gravitational pressure off the nerve roots and disks in the spine and increases the space between vertebrae

Lateral Epicondyle            Lateral epicondyle is the ligament that joins the forearm muscles with the humerus

Lubricin                  Lubricin is a surface-active mucus like glycoprotein secreted in the synovial joint that plays an important role in cartilage integrity. In healthy joints, lubricin molecules coat the cartilage surface, providing boundary lubrication and preventing cell and protein adhesion

Medial Epicondyle Medial epicondyle is the ligament that joins the flexor muscles of the forearm to the humerus

Meniscus                  The meniscus is a crescent shaped cartilaginous structure that partly undergoes tension and torsion

Metabolites             Metabolites are the intermediates and products of metabolism. They are formed as part of the natural biochemical process of degrading and eliminating compounds

Molecular Mass                Molecular mass or molecular weight is the mass of a molecule. It is calculated as the sum of the atomic mass of each constituent atom multiplied by the number of atoms of that element in the molecular formula  

Mucopolysaccharides      Mucopolysaccharides or glycosaminoglycans are long unbranched polysaccharides consisting of a repeating disaccharide unit. The repeating unit consists of an amino sugar along with a uronic sugar. Glycosaminoglycans are highly polar and attract water. Chondroitin sulphate and hyaluronic acid are both mucopolysaccharides  

Neural Arch             Neural arch is the cartilaginous or bony arch enclosing the spinal cord at the back side of the vertebra

NSAID’s                     Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is a class of analgesic medication that reduces pain, fever and inflammation

Osteoarthritis         A type of joint disease that results from breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. The most common symptoms are joint pain, joint swelling, decreased range of motion and stiffness

Osteophytes           Osteophytes is a term referring to bone spurs, smooth structures that form on the bones over a long period of time. Bone spurs are physical indications that there is degeneration of joint cartilage

Osteotomy               An osteotomy is a surgical operation whereby a bone is cut to shorten or lengthen it or to change its alignment. It is sometimes performed to  straighten a bone that has healed crookedly following a fracture

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)        PRP is blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets (colorless blood cells that helps blood clot)

Proteinases             Proteinases are involved in digesting long protein chains into shorter fragments by splitting the peptide bonds that link amino acid residues

Proteoglycans        Proteoglycans are large macromolecules consisting of a protein core to which are attached multiple chains of glycosaminoglycans and oligosaccharides. During normal and pathological turnover, degradation products are released to the synovial fluid and to the circulation

Radiculopathy        Radiculopathy is a disease or compression of the nerve roots

Radiofrequency Neurotomy      Radiofrequency neurotomy is heat generated by radio waves used to target specific nerves and temporarily interfere with their ability to transmit pain signals

Receptors                Receptors are groups of specialised cells. They can detect changes in the environment, which are called stimuli, and turn them into electrical impulses. Receptors are often located in the sense organs, such as the ear, eye and skin. Each organ has receptors sensitive to particular kinds of stimuli

Sciatic Nerve           Sciatic nerve is the longest and widest single nerve in the body, beginning in the lower back and running through the buttock down the lower limb

Synovial Fluid         Is a viscous fluid found in the cavities of the synovial joints.  The principal role of synovial fluid is to reduce friction between the articular cartilage of synovial joints during movement and protect the cartilage surface

Synovialcytes          They represent a specialised cell type located inside joints in the synovium. These cells play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory diseases, such as osteoarthritis

Tissue Homeostasis Tissue homeostasis is the functional and structural maintenance of the organs of the body. It depends on genetic, molecular and cellular processes involved in the repair of structures and functions damaged by the normal functioning of the tissues, disease and/or trauma

Vascular Membrane A thin, pliable layer of tissue covering surfaces, separating or connecting regions, structures or organs of a living organism. A semipermeable layer that surrounds a cell

Viscosity                   Viscosity is a measure of a fluid's resistance to flow. It describes the internal friction of a moving fluid. A fluid with large viscosity resists motion because its molecular makeup gives it a lot of internal friction