Chiropractic, Naturopathy & Acupuncture Glossary

acupoint – in acupuncture and acupressure, a position, usually along a meridian, where needles or pressure are applied.

acupressure – a form of Asian bodywork similar to acupuncture; however, instead of needles, the practitioner uses fingers, palms, elbows, etc., to stimulate acupoints.

acupuncture – a form of Asian bodywork in which needles are inserted into specificacupoints along the body’s meridians in order to relieve the patient of symptoms. For more information, please see our section on acupuncture history.

acute pain – sudden, and usually sharp, pain that may be indicative of injury or illness. See also: chronic pain.

alternative medicine – any treatments or medicines that fall outside the realm of “conventional” or Western medicine. Forms of alternative medicine include acupuncture, acupressurechiropractic, energy therapies, herbal medicine,homeopathy, magnetic field therapy, naturopathic medicine, and reiki.

applied kinesiology – a form of chiropractic diagnosis that utilizes muscle testing to determine how well a person body is functioning. The basic premise is that any organ dysfunction corresponds to a specific set of muscles.

atlas – the topmost cervical vertebra of the spine.

bioidentical hormones – the use of hormones that are identical in molecular structure to those created by the human body, and so cause the same effects, but which are produced by pharmaceutical companies or compounding pharmacies, where they are made on a case-by-case basis for each patient. Bioidentical hormones are most often used for women experiencing the symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and sleeplessness, or for child-bearing-aged men and women for PMS, acne, mood imbalances, thyroid and adrenal imbalances, and fatigue. Also known as natural hormone therapy, due to the fact that the hormones act in the body just as the ones our body produces, and are oftentimes produced from plant materials.

bio-kinetics – the acupunctureacupressurechiropractic technique of adjusting the space between the atlas and the skull in order to relieve any of a number of ailments by correcting subluxations and restructuring the spine.

botanical medicine – the use of certain herbs/plants to treat disease and help promote health by helping to correct hormone imbalances, acting as antioxidants, correcting a deficiency of a substance, and/or supporting the immune system or digestive tract. Also sometimes known as herbal medicine, herbal supplements, or dietary supplements.

bulging disk – a condition in which a vertebral disk extends outside the area it normally occupies. Bulging disks are more common than herniated disks.

carpal tunnel syndrome – a condition that occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the palm, becomes compressed at the wrist, thus causing tingling, burning, numbness, pain, and other symptoms.

chronic pain – pain that occurs for an extended period of time, usually due to injury or illness. Some practitioners consider this period to be at least three months, while others use 6 or 12 months as a milestone. See also: acute pain.

cold laser therapy – an alternative-medicine treatment that uses low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes to target acupoints or broad portions of tissue to stimulate change in the tissue. Also known as low-level laser therapy, or (LLLT).

compounding pharmacy – a pharmacy where supplements and pharmaceutical products are created on a case-by-case basis for each patient. A practitioner may recommend a compounding pharmacy to a patient who has allergies to a particular ingredient or who has a preference in form (e.g., cream vs. capsule) of a medication.

contour analysis – a acupunctureacupressurechiropractic procedure in which light is passed through a grid and onto the patient’s body, thereby producing an image similar to a topographic map, which is then used to pinpoint spinal faults. Also called moiré contourography.

cryotherapy – the medical practice by which low temperatures are applied generally or locally to the body to treat a variety of benign or malignant lesions.

cupping – a therapy of traditional Chinese medicine in which suction is created on the skin in order to stimulate the flow of blood, which in turn promotes healing.

diathermy – electrically induced heat that is commonly used as a treatment for muscle relaxation and other therapeutic purposes.

effleurage – strokes used in massage, especially Swedish massage, as a warm-up to petrissage, which focuses on deeper tissues.

electrotherapy – the use of electrical energy as a form of therapeutic treatment, quite often for muscle stimulation. Electrotherapy can also help with joint movement and pain management.

flexion-distraction decompression – a gentle acupunctureacupressure,chiropractic technique often used to treat neck and back pain, especially when other techniques have failed. Flexion-distraction decompression involves bending and stretching of the back while adding gentle pressure to different points of the spine.

hemodynamics – the cardiovascular study of blood flow or circulation (literally “blood movement). Measurement of blood pressure is considered a hemodynamic measurement.

herbal medicine – the art or practice of using herbs and herbal remedies to maintain health and to prevent, alleviate, or cure disease.

herniated disk – a condition that occurs when a vertebral disk cracks and the inner cartilage protrudes through. Also know as a slipped disk or ruptured disk. Herniated disks are less common than bulging disks.

holistic – a medical concept that all aspects of the body – physical, psychological, and social – should be taken into account when making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment. Many forms of alternative use the term to describe how all forms of disease are caused by the interplay of these different aspects, as well as spiritual factors.

homeopathy – a form of alternative medicine based on the concept that “like cures like” – in other words, that the substance that caused a condition can also act as a remedy. The substances administered are most commonly prescribed in a very diluted form.

hydrotherapy — the use of water to help relieve pain and to treat certain diseases. Methods make use of the properties of water, including temperature and pressure, to stimulate blood circulation, modulate immune function, treat skin disorders, and balance hormones, and may include the use of water jets, underwater massage, wet sheet wraps, contrasting hot and cold showers or compresses, and mineral baths.

interferential electrical muscle stimulation — a form of physical therapy in which low-frequency electrical current is channeled through muscles, nerves, and connective tissue to stimulate the production of endorphins (the body’s natural pain relievers), which in turn reduces pain.

IV nutritional therapy – a medical process by which nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are introduced directly into the bloodstream via intravenous, thereby eliminating the need for these nutrients to be absorbed via digestion.

lesion – an abnormality in the body’s tissue, usually caused by disease or trauma.

low-level laser therapy – see: cold laser therapy.

lumbar vertebrae – the largest segments of the movable vertebral column consisting of five vertebrae located below the level of the ribs.

mechanical traction – a non-surgical acupunctureacupressurechiropracticprocedure most often used to relieve pain in the lower back, neck, arms, and legs. The treatment works by reducing pressure on the spinal disks by applying a prolonged force in a direction parallel to the spine, which in turn improves circulation. Some patients report the procedure to be so relaxing that they fall asleep during it.

medical nutrition – an evidence-based diet therapy that uses foods as medicine. Dietary recommendations of specific foods with specific qualities, allergic response, or nutritional value (vitamin and mineral content) are prescribed for the patient. Supplements may also be given for prevention or to make up for an inadequate diet due to any number of conditions, including cancer, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and food allergies.

meridian – a path within the body through which qi flows. In acupuncture andacupressure, it is along these meridians that acupoints are found.

migraine – a form of chronic headache that is often felt on only one side of the head. Migraines may be genetic but may also be due to environmental factors. Sufferers of migraines may also experience nausea, photosensitivity, or vomiting.

moxibustion – a traditional Chinese medicine treatment that employs the use of moxa, or mugwort herb, which may be burned onto the patient’s skin or applied withacupuncture needles.

moist heat therapy – a natural therapeutic treatment that employs hot baths, steamed towels, or heating packs to help with an injury, pain, or stress. Moist heat is often preferred to dry because it better penetrates the muscle and has the added benefit of not drying out the skin.

muscle testing – a practice of traditional Chinese medicine in which slight pressure is applied to a muscle to determine energy blockage and how well the organs are functioning. See also: applied kinesiology.

naturopathic medicine – a system of health care based on the use of prevention and natural treatments. Read more about naturopathic medicine and our naturopathic services.

non-force manipulation – a acupunctureacupressurechiropractic method that pinpoints misalignments of bones, muscles, ligaments, and disks. Because of the precision in determining the problem area, the chiropractor is able to use only light force to correct the issue.

petrissage – massage strokes – typically kneading, wringing, and skin rolling, that are deeper than those of effleurage.

professional-grade supplements – nutritional supplements, formulated after thorough research, that are held to much higher standards than what would be found on a retail shelf in terms of potency, purity, and activity of a therapeutic substance. Professional-grade supplements are considered medical grade, and therefore can only be purchased through and prescribed by a physician, as opposed to at a health food store, where supplements are neither regulated nor prescribed.

qi – the body’s energy or lifeforce, which flows along channels in the body known asmeridians. When the body’s qi is flowing properly, we are healthy; when there is a disruption in the flow of qi, we may see signs of pain or disease. For more information, read more about acupuncture and our acupuncture services.

reflexology – a form of alternative medicine that utilizes massage on specific points on the hands, feet, or ears in order to relieve tension and treat illness. Much as withacupuncture, the stimulation of these areas helps improve the circulation of qi.

reiki – a Japanese method of “hands on healing” that is often considered a part ofalternative or Oriental medicine. The treatment assists with stress reduction and relaxation, and may also promote healing. Read more about reiki and our reiki treatments.

ruptured disk – See: herniated disk.

sciatica – a set of symptoms, including pain, that may be caused by the compression of one of several spinal nerve rods or of the sciatic nerves themselves.

shiatsu – a form of intuitive bodywork and alternative medicine is sometimes referred to as “finger-pressure massage,” which is its literal meaning in Japanese. Read more about shiatsu and its benefits.

slipped disk – see: herniated disk.

spinal adjustment – see: spinal manipulation.

spinal column – see: vertebral column.

spinal manipulation – a therapeutic treatment used by chiropractors, osteopaths, and other medical practitioners in which either the hands or a device is used to apply a controlled force to a joint of the spine.

subluxation – a dysfunctional segment of the vertebral column, which may or may not be displaced, that may alter neurological function.

traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) – a broad range of practices, including tui na,acupuncture, and herbology, that share an origin in China from more than 2,000 years ago.

trigger-point therapy – a therapeutic treatments used to treat trigger points (painful spots located in taut muscle fibers), which have built up over time to the point where they may become chronic if not treated.

tui na – a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves hands-on body treatment to bring the body’s energies into alignment and to stimulate flow of qi.

ultrasound therapy – the use of sound waves in a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing to stimulate the tissue beneath the surface of the skin as a form of physical therapy.

vertebral column – the backbone or spine.

vertebral disk – a soft cushion that sits between the vertebrae in your spine.

whiplash – an injury, often due to a rear-end car accident, that can cause chronic pain due to a sudden distortion of the neck.

work-hardening rehabilitation program – a form of physical therapy that involves progressive, work-related activities to recondition the payment so that s/he can return to employment after improving strength, endurance, and coordination.