Medical Terminology: Names of Physical Conditions Affecting Skin, Bones, Muscles, or Senses

By Beverley Henderson, Jennifer Lee Dorsey

Your bones, muscles, skin, and senses form an intricate network that holds your body up, keeps it moving, protects it, and brings messages to your brain that help it function. From time to time, though, your bod may not be running at top speed, and one of these systems may be the culprit.

Sure, typical ailments like joint pain, broken bones, and skin rashes can wreak havoc on this network of systems. But don’t forget about the rarer issues that can pop up as well. Many of these have names as singular as the pioneering doctors and scientists for whom they are named. Check out what might be knocking around under your hood:

  • Anghelescu: Inability to bend the spine while lying on the back

  • Auspitz: Appearance of bleeding spots when psoriasis scales are scraped off

  • Babinski: Loss of Achilles tendon reflex in sciatica

  • Bertolotti: Sacralization of the 5th lumbar vertebra, with sciatica and scoliosis

  • Bloch-Sulzberger: Genetic disorder that affects skin, hair, nails, and teeth with skin blistering and wart-like rash

  • Dalrymple: A widened eyelid opening or eyelid spasm, seen in Graves’ disease

  • Darier: Change observed after stroking the skin of a person with urticaria pigmentosa; skin becomes swollen, red, and itchy

  • Gougerot-Blum (pigmented purpuric lichenoid dermatitis): Skin condition characterized by small rust-colored papules on the legs, primarily seen in men

  • Hailey-Hailey (familial benign pemphigus): Genetic disorder causing blisters to form on the skin

  • Hennebert: Nystagmus when positive or negative pressure is applied to tympanic membrane indicating labyrinthitis

  • Jendrassik: Paralysis of the extraocular muscles

  • Kiloh-Nevin: Ocular myopathy

  • Klippel-Trenaunay: A rare condition of one extremity characterized by hypertrophy of bone and soft tissue

  • Maisonneauve: Hyperextensibility of the hand, indicating a Colles’ fracture

  • Milkman (also called Looser-Milkman): Bone disease with transparent stripes of absorption in long and flat bones

  • Naftziger: Condition of cervical muscle spasm secondary to intervertebral disk disease

  • Quinquaud (decalvaris folliculitis): Inflammation of hair follicles, resulting in loss of hair, red scalp, and pustules around hair follicles

  • Ramsay-Hunt (Herpes zoster oticus): Shingles infection affecting the facial nerve close to the ear

  • Schwartz-Jampel: Genetic disorder causing myotonia

  • Usher: Condition that affects both hearing and vision, with hearing loss and progressive loss of vision

  • Von Graefe: An immobility or lagging of upper eyelid, seen in Graves’ disease

  • Weber-Christian: Condition characterized by recurrent subcutaneous nodules that heal with depression of the overlying skin