Medical/Neurosurgical Glossary
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Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (Jogger Foot Syndrome) – This painful pinching of a nerve at the ankle is similar to the carpal tunnel syndrome in the arm.  This may be fixed with surgery.

Technetium Bone Scan – A radiological investigation used to identify a variety of bony abnormalities and to detect stress fractures.  A small amount of radioactive dye is injected.  The dye finds the abnormalities and makes it easy for a special camera to see the problems.

Temporal Lobe Syndrome – Lesions of the side of the brain cause behavioral problems and often aggressive sexual tendencies.

Temporal-Mandibular Joint Syndrome – Pain of the jaw joints from a variety of causes.

Tendon – The fibrous band of tissue that connects a muscle to bone. It is composed mainly of collagen.

Tendonitis – A damaged tendon which is red, swollen, hot and painful (inflamed) is said to have tendonitis.  This may be caused by overuse and is treated with rest.

Thermal Annuloplasty – This is a controversial procedure where the annulus of the disc is heated using a small wire which is inserted into the disc using a needle.  The manufacturer of the device claims that this heating may destroy some nerve roots or strengthen some tissues.  The research showing benefit is tenuous and incomplete.  There are some who argue that the procedure causes more damage than benefit.  This procedure is most commonly recommended for chronic lower back pain secondary to degenerative disc disease but should be done only if the risks and limitations of the procedure are clearly understood by the patient.

Thermography – A diagnostic procedure that images heat from body surfaces. Commonly used by chiropractors and medical doctors but has not been found to be effective in locating pinched nerves or subluxated vertebrae.

Tinel Sign (Hoffman-Tinel Sign ) – A tingling sensation in the distribution of a damaged nerve which occurs when the nerve is lightly tapped.  Normal nerves do not respond to light touch in this way.

Terms and Limits – Insurance plans are valid only for certain time periods called terms.  The plans only cover certain services and have exclusions which are called limits.  An understanding of these terms is crucial to understanding the policy’s benefits. These two words are frequently used to deny care or payment.

Thompson Terminal Point Technique – A chiropractic adjustment performed on a table in which the supporting cushions drop an inch or two when a thrust is applied to the spine. Practitioners locate "subluxations" by checking leg lengths with the legs straight, the knees bent, or the head turned to either side.

Thoracic – The chest level region of the spine that is located between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae. It consists of 12 vertebrae that serve as attachment points for ribs. 

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – A condition where the space for the nerves from the neck to the arm do not have enough room and are pinched, this syndrome is often caused by an extra rib or an abnormally placed muscle.  This is a rare syndrome and may be diagnosed by Adson’s test and an EMG.

Thoracic Spine – The chest level region of the spine that is located between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae. It consists of 12 vertebrae that serve as attachment points for ribs. 

Thoracic Vertebrae – Any of the twelve vertebrae in the thoracic or upper-back portion of the spine.

Thrombolysis – The breaking up of a blood clot, from the Latin words for “clot” and “break.”

Thrombolytic Drugs – Medications used to dissolve blood clots.

Tinel Sign – An electrical type shock caused by tapping a nerve in a region of damage.

Tissue – A group or layer of cells that together perform specific functions.

Titanium – A metallic element used to make surgical implants.

Toftness Method – A method in which a handheld "Toftness Radiation Detector" is used to locate subluxated vertebrae and pinched nerves so that they can then be corrected with spinal adjustments. Although the FDA has banned the device, a few chiropractors still use it.

Toggle Recoil Technique – A manipulation performed with a sudden shallow thrust (toggle) followed by quick withdrawal (recoil) of the chiropractor's hands while the patient is relaxed.

Total Body Modification (T.B.M.) – Method that involves locating stressed organs or body areas so that "tried and tested reflex points and muscle testing" can be used to stimulate specific areas of the spine. This supposedly restores balance to the nervous system by stimulating nerve cells in the brain, which enables the brain to regain control of the body and guide it back to health.

Totally and Temporarily Disability (TTD) - the time period when an injured worker must remain off work and also the money paid for the time off; applies only to the California state system.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – A method of providing pain relief using electrical signals applied to the skin and which calm the nerve endings.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – A stroke-like event that lasts for a short period of time caused by a blocked blood vessel.

Toxicology – The study of the toxic or harmful effects of substances on the human body. 

Translation – A term that describes the slippage of a vertebral body.  It can describe lateral, anterior, or posterior displacement.

Transplant – The implantation of bone or other tissue, as in grafting, from one part of the body to another, or from one individual to another. Transplant also refers to the transfer of an organ such as a kidney or heart from one individual to another.  Bone can also be transplanted.

Transverse – Refers to an imaginary plane that cuts or that divides the body into superior and inferior portions.

Transverse Process – This is a small lateral protuberance which is present on all thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.  It serves as a point of attachment for the muscles that support the spine.

Treatment – The care of a sick or injured patient is treatment.  It does not include the evaluation of a legal issue in an injury case.

Tubercle – A bump, often a location where a muscle attaches to 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