Medical/Neurosurgical Glossary
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Facet – A sharp surface cut on the surface of an object, like the sides of a diamond.

Facet Joint – The small joints between the back parts of the vertebral bones are called the facet joints.

Facetectomy – The surgical removal of a facet joint.

Failed Back Syndrome – This refers to a condition of continued pain and disability following back surgery. Even the best surgeons do not always get perfect results and some patients just don’t get better. 

Fallot Tetralogy – A congenital heart deficiency.

False Negative Report – This is an incorrect report which is negative when in reality it should have been positive.  It is one kind of error in testing.   

False Positive Report – This is an incorrect report which is positive when in reality it should have been negative.  It is one kind of error in testing.

Fajersztajn Sign (Crossed Sciatic Sign) – A sign of sciatic nerve injury or a ruptured lumbar disc; the hip can be flexed when the knee is bent but not when the knee is straight.  This is positive when the straight leg test is positive.

Farber Disease – Disseminated lipogranulomatosis with enlargement of the joints, pulmonary problems and pain.

Fatigue – Weakness or exhaustion, a “giving out” after work or exertion.

Fatigue Fracture – A bony fracture or break that occurs as the result of repeated small stresses rather than one single major injury.

Fecal Incontinence – This is a condition where one is unable to control or hold stool.

Fee Schedule – This is a menu of charges or fees for medical services.  Doctors typically have charges that they determine and these are the amounts billed.  The fee schedules for payments are typically lower, or discounted.  The fee schedule is determined by one’s insurance.  Some are set by law (Medicare, Medicaid, MediCal, and, workers’ compensation for example) and some are set by contracts (Blue Cross, HMO’s, PPO’s, etc.).  Doctors who are required to, or agree to, accept the discounted rate will then “write off” charges which are greater than the fee schedule. 

Feuerstein-Mims Syndrome (Epidermal Nevus Syndrome) – The combination of epidermal abnormalities combined with central nervous abnormalities.

Fibromyalgia – A chronic painful condition usually associated with depression, fibromyalgia is diagnosed based on clinical criteria.  If certain points are tender, the diagnosis may be confirmed.  The American Academy of Rheumatology set forth criteria used to diagnose this disease based upon the physical examination.

Fibrosis – An overgrowth of scar tissue.

Fibrositis – This is a benign, intermittently recurring, and protracted inflammatory disease process, with a lack of any clear underlying pathology. 

Fick Phenomenon – A fogging of vision with halos reported around bright objects.  Often associated with contact lens use.

Fine Needle Aspiration – This is a biopsy of tissue using a thin, hollow needle to withdraw tissue from the body.

Flat-back Syndrome – A condition related to a loss of the normal curve of the low back.  It is most commonly a complication of a fusion surgery.

Flexion-Distraction Technique – A chiropractic method of stretching the spine in a face-down position on a table that allows manually applied flexion and traction to be applied to specific spinal segments.

Flexor Muscle – Any one of the muscles that cause a limb to bend.

Flick Sign – A pain in the hands from carpal tunnel syndrome relieved by shaking out the hands or “flicking” them.

Flip Sign – A way of doing the straight leg raising test in the sitting and lying position.  A patient with a positive pain sign lying down and a negative sign when the test is done sitting has a positive flip sign.  It is a test of poor credibility first described by Gordon Waddell.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – This is the branch of the Federal government which is responsible to make sure that all medications and treatments are safe and effective.  They have the obligation to review research and approve or disapprove new treatments.

Foot Drop – This is a weakness of the tibialis anterior, the muscle that lifts the front of the foot or causes dorsiflexion of the foot.  This can be a surgical emergency.  If not fixed promptly, the damage can be permanent.

Foramen – A tunnel or opening in a tissue or bone. In the spine, the foramen refers to the hole leading out of the side of the bone through which the nerves exit.  When a nerve is pinched in a foramen, it is repaired with a foraminotomy.

Foraminotomy – This is an operation used to relieve a pinched nerve by opening up the foramen  (opening) in the side of the vertebral bone.

Fossa – A flat area or depression in a structure.

Frack Sign – A pseudohemophilia related to liver dysfunction.

Fracture – A disruption or a break in a bone.

Frequent - under California law describes the frequency of a pain as occurring 75% of the time; of "occasional," "intermittent," "frequent," and "constant."

Froin Syndrome – A high level of protein in the spinal fluid due to a block in the spinal canal.  Because of this, the spinal fluid clots.

Frontal Polar Syndrome – The personality changes associated with bilateral frontal lobe damage and including loss of inhibitions.

Frontal Plane – This is an imaginary plane which runs through the body and which separates the anterior and posterior parts.  It is the same as the coronal plane.

Frozen Shoulder – This is an alternate and more common name for "adhesive capsulitis" of the shoulder.  It involves loss of motion and involves four distinct stages: pain; pain; stiffness; and, resolution.  

Full-Spine Technique – This is one chiropractic method of adjusting or manipulating the vertebrae from the neck down.  

Functional Disorders – This is a term for certain pain syndromes that occur in the absence of any identifiable pathology.

Functional Hypoglycemia Syndrome (Harris Syndrome) – This is the low blood sugar due to excessive insulin, as in the presence of an insulin secreting tumor.

Fusion – A surgical operation to join two bones.  The operation causes a union, healing, or mending a bone.

If you are aware of any useful spine and neuromusculoskeletal terms which are not included in this list, or if you have suggestions for better definitions,  your help would be greatly appreciated.  Please send me any upgrades and I will update the web site appropriately.  Click here to send a comment.

The information in this site briefly describes issues related to medical treatments, and has been licensed by from Northern California Neurosurgery Medical Group, Inc., who is solely responsible for said content.  This web site is not a substitute for good medical care or for a consultation with a spine specialist. It should not be used to plan your treatment. The well considered advice of a specialist who has personally examined you is always superior to even the best internet pages.

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Last modified: 07/27/08