Medical Terminology For Dummies
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Your muscles do a serious amount of work every single hour of every day. And you need to know the medical terms for all things muscular. Though you may read a book propped up on some pillows, your muscles are at work — muscles are moving your eyes across the words so you can read, smooth muscles are working your organs, and superficial muscles are helping keep your body upright.

The movement of your muscles

Turns out, for every muscular action, luckily for you, there is a word to describe it. Here are just a few muscular action words to remember:

  • Abduction: Movement of drawing away from the center of the body (such as fingers spread apart)

  • Adduction: Movement of drawing toward the middle of the body (for example, fingers held together)

  • Eversion: Turning outward

  • Inversion: Turning inward

  • Extension: Movement in which a limb is placed in a straight position

  • Flexion: Movement in which a limb is bent

  • Rotation: Turning around on its own axis

  • Pronation: Movement that turns the palm of the hand downward

  • Supination: Movement that turns the palm of the hand upward

To remember the difference between -ectomy and -otomy, remember -ectomy with e for exit or excision and -otomy for o to open only.

Common muscular conditions

Muscular conditions are fairly common in people of all ages and backgrounds. From tennis elbow to the enigmatic fibromyalgia, the muscular system can take a real beating. Here are the most common muscular conditions:

  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa sac, which lines the joint and provides smooth joint movement

  • Fibromyalgia: Pain in fibrous tissues of muscles, tendons, or ligaments

  • Myoparalysis: Paralysis of a muscle

  • Myotonia: Muscles react slowly after contraction or stimulation

  • Polymyositis: Inflammation of “many muscles”

  • Tendinitis or tendonitis: Inflammation of a tendon

  • Tendinopathy: Any disease involving a tendon

  • Tennis elbow: The tendon that connects the arm muscle to elbow becomes inflamed due to the repetitive use of the arm

    The actual medical term for this is lateral or medial epicondylitis (lateral if referring to the bump on the outside of the elbow, medial to the bump on the inside).

  • Tenosynovitis: Inflammation of the tendon and the sheath around it, often in a finger or the wrist

Muscular diseases and pathology

Some of the most serious diseases affect the muscular system. From diseases that affect facial movement to the full-body atrophy of Lou Gehrig’s disease, these diseases are all challenging:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Movement disorder or muscle atrophy with degeneration of nerves in the spinal cord and lower region of the brain, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

  • Dermatomyositis: Polymyositis with inflammatory skin changes of face, neck, trunk, and arms

  • Dupuytren’s contracture: Disease affecting the palmar fascia of the hand, causing the ring finger and little finger to contract toward the palm.

  • Isaacs Syndrome: Progressive muscle stiffness and spasm

  • Leiomyoma: Benign tumor of smooth muscle

  • Leiomyosarcoma: Malignant tumor of smooth muscle

  • Mitochondrial myopathy: Mitochondria, the power units of cells, are damaged, causing muscle weakness

  • Myasthenia gravis: Lack of muscle strength with paralysis, characterized by weakness of muscles of the face and jaw, with difficulty swallowing

  • Myofascial pain syndrome: Chronic disorder affecting one or more muscle groups

  • Myosarcoma: Malignant tumor of muscle tissue

  • Myositis ossificans progressiva: Progressive disease that begins in early life in which muscles gradually convert into bony tissue

  • Muscular dystrophy: Inherited disease characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of muscle fibers without involvement of the nervous system

  • Polymyalgia rheumatica: Muscle pain, common in shoulder or pelvis, without arthritis or signs of muscle distress

  • Rotator cuff disease: Inflammation of tendons and muscles in the shoulder; if they fuse you have a larger problem, a condition called frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis

  • Torticollis: Acute myositis of the cervical muscles (wryneck)

Muscular radiology and diagnostic tests

Though the list of muscular conditions and diseases is quite long, there are some simple diagnostic tests doctors can perform to diagnose most muscular ailments.

  • Electromyogram (EMG) is a record of electric activity in a muscle. This procedure is done to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome. Electromyography is an electrical recording of activity in a muscle.

  • Isokinetic dynamometry: A test to measuring the degree of muscular power using an instrument called a dynamometer.

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): The gold standard for making pictures of soft tissue such as fascia, tendons, ligaments, and muscle.

  • X-ray: Picture of the bones.

Muscular surgeries and procedures

Now that your muscles have been poked, prodded, tested, and diagnosed, it’s time to fix what’s broken. Most of these procedures are surgical in nature.

Many surgeries are performed arthroscopically, through a scope inserted into or near a joint space, with one lone endoscope, Palmar uniportal endoscopic carpal tunnel release. This is also called a Mirza technique, an endoscopic method for release of carpal tunnel, previously accomplished by open surgery.

The surgical players are

  • Fasciectomy: Excision of fascia (fibrous band or membrane of tissue surrounding muscle)

  • Fasciodesis: Surgical fusion or binding of muscle fascia

  • Fasciotomy: Surgical cutting into muscle fascia

  • Myolysis: Surgical breaking down or separation of a muscle

  • Myoplasty: Surgical repair of a muscle

  • Myorrhaphy: Suturing of a muscle

  • Tenodesis: Surgical fixation of a tendon

  • Tenomyoplasty: Surgical repair of a tendon and muscle

  • Tenorrhaphy: Suturing of a tendon

  • Tenotomy: Incision of a tendon

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