Glossary of Terms

Allergies occur when the body’s defense system, the immune system, is hypersensitive to a harmless substance, called an allergen, and treats this substance as if it were a harmful or foreign invader.

A chronic lung disorder characterized by recurrent attacks of wheezing and difficulty breathing.

The atlas (C1) is a single, 2 oz. doughnut-shaped vertebra at the top of the spine. Trillions of nerve fibers from the brainstem travel through the small opening in the atlas and flow down to the spine. The atlas supports the entire weight of the head. Because the atlas is the only vertebra that does not have a disc above or below it, the atlas is the only freely moveable vertebra in the spine.

Atlas Subluxation Complex
Occurs when the atlas (C1) is out of its proper alignment and causes stress on nerves, which in turn results in misalignments of the spine, pelvis, and related extremities.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A condition caused by swelling and pressure inside a tunnel-like structure of the wrist called the carpal tunnel.

Discs are located between the vertebrae. They are round, spongy pads of cartilage that act like shock absorbers. In many cases, degeneration or pressure from over-exertion can cause a disc to protrude and bulge, causing pressure on nerves and intense pain. When this happens, the condition is called a bulging, herniated, or ruptured disc.

A chronic condition characterized by extreme fatigue and widespread body aches that affect the body’s soft tissue, including the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.

Herniated Disc
A disc is a small pad of gel-like tissue surrounded by thick coating and is sandwiched between each of the bones vertebrae that make up the spinal column. Discs, which operate like shock absorbers, cushion the vertebrae, prevent the vertebrae from rubbing together, and allow the spine to bend. Accidents and injuries may cause the spine to misalign. When this misalignment occurs, weight is not distributed evenly across the discs below. The discs may move or “bulge” into the spinal canal or leak out tissue that may press against a nerve. The result is called a herniated, slipped, or ruptured disc.

Infrared Scan
A diagnostic technique that uses a small, hand-held device to measure and compare skin temperature on each side of the spine for any signs of nervous system imbalance or dysfunction.

The normal curvature in the thoracic spine, or a reversal of the normal curve in the cervical or lumbar spine. Cervical kyphosis often occurs following trauma, such as an auto accident or severe fall.

The normal curvature in the cervical and lumbar spine.

Migraine Headache
A migraine headache is characterized by an intense, throbbing pain, most often on one side of the head and sometimes involving the neck. Extreme sensitivity to light and sound, nausea and vomiting, and coldness in the hands or feet may accompany the headache.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
A disorder causing a loss or damage to the myelin, which is the fatty tissue coating and protection for the nerve fibers in the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves).

As opposed to traditional chiropractors, who make forceful adjustments to the entire spinal column, Orthospinology practitioners focus on very specifically and gently adjusting the atlas vertebra to align the spine back to its proper position.

Parkinson’s Disease
A chronic and progressive brain disorder, which occurs when cells that produce a vital brain chemical called dopamine are damaged or die.

Precision Laser-Aligned X-ray
Unlike standard x-rays, precision laser-aligned x-ray equipment is carefully adjusted for accuracy using laser technology and is held in place by a special frame to maintain that adjustment. A laser beam is also used to position the patient correctly in front of the equipment.

A spinal deformity characterized by lateral (side-to-side) curvature of the spine. As opposed to a normal spine, which appears straight when viewed from the front or back, the spine of a person with scoliosis resembles an S-shaped curve.

Epilepsy is a chronic brain disorder characterized by recurrent seizures, which are excessive electrical activity in the brain that causes sudden changes in behavior. In a seizure, clusters of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain fire at a much faster rate than normal. The symptoms of seizures vary widely, depending on the part of the brain affected.

Spinal Cord
A part of the central nervous system that is enclosed in and protected by the vertebral column. The spinal cord passes through the spinal canal and consists of nerve pathways that carry information to and from the brain. The cord also carries the 31 pairs of spinal nerves of the peripheral nervous system, as well as central nervous system pathways that innervate skeletal muscles.

The vertebral column is a column of vertebrae made up of 7 cervical (neck) vertebrae, 12 thoracic (mid-back) vertebrae, 5 lumbar (lower back) vertebrae, the sacrum, and coccyx.

A misalignment of a spinal joint that affects the function of nerves and therefore, affects the body’s organs and general health.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)
Also called TMJ syndrome – refers not just to one, but to a number of conditions that cause pain in the face, head, or jaw area. The TMJs, located just in front of the ears, are the 2 hinged jaw joints that attach the lower jaw (mandible) to the bones at the sides and base of the skull (temporal bones). These joints allow the jaws to open, close, move side-to-side, and rotate in movements such as chewing, swallowing, or speaking. When there is pressure on the facial nerves from muscle tension, which may be caused by clenching or grinding the teeth during the daytime or nighttime, arthritis, stress, or injury may occur.

Trigeminal Neuralgia
Also called Tic Douloureux, is a condition affecting the fifth cranial (trigeminal) nerve, one of the largest nerves in the head. The disorder causes sudden, sharp, stabbing, shock-like, or shooting pain in the face, jaw, or cheek.

Vertebrae (singular: vertebra)
The individual bones that make up the spine. There are 33 vertebrae in humans: 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 4 coccygeal.