A medication or treatment that relieves pain.
Ankylosing spondylitis: A rheumatic disease that causes arthritis
of the spine and sacroiliac joints and, at times, inflammation of the
eyes and heart valves.
Antibodies: Special proteins produced by the body's immune system
that help fight and destroy viruses, bacteria, and other foreign
substances (antigens) that invade the body. Occasionally, abnormal
antibodies develop that can attack a part of the body and cause
autoimmune disease. These abnormal antibodies are called auto
Antigen: A foreign substance that stimulates an immune response.
Arthrography: An X-ray procedure that provides a detailed image of
the joint when air or a contrast substance is injected into the joint
Arthroscopy: A procedure performed with an arthroscope (a small,
flexible tube that transmits the image of the inside of a joint to a
video monitor). Arthroscopy is used for diagnosis as well as treatment
of some types of joint injury. The arthroscope is inserted through a
small incision in the skin near the affected joint.
Aspiration: A procedure using a needle to remove body fluids for
testing or as a treatment.
Bursa: (plural: bursae) A small sac of tissue located between bone
and other moving structures such as muscles, skin, or tendons. The bursa
contains a lubricating fluid that allows smooth gliding between these
Bursitis: A condition involving inflammation of a bursa or bursae.
Cartilage: A resilient tissue that covers and cushions the ends of
the bones and absorbs shock
Collagen: The main structural protein of skin, bones, tendons,
cartilage, and connective tissue.
Connective tissue: The supporting framework of the body and its
internal organs. Computed tomography (CT or CAT): A diagnostic technique
that uses a computer and an X-ray machine to take a series of images
that can be transformed into a clear and detailed image of a joint.
Corticosteroids: Powerful drugs similar to the hormones the body
makes to fight inflammation. Glucocorticoids is a more precise term.
DMARDs: An acronym for disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.
Fibromyalgia: A chronic disorder characterized by widespread
musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas of the
neck, spine, shoulders, and hips called "tender points."
Fibrous capsule: A tough wrapping of tendons and ligaments that
surrounds the joint.
Flare or flare-up: A worsening of symptoms and pain in those with
Glucocorticoids: These powerful drugs are similar to the hormones
the body makes to fight inflammation. Cortisone and prednisone are the
best known. They are also called corticosteroids, but glucocorticoids is
a more precise term.
Gout: A type of arthritis resulting from deposits of needle-like
crystals of uric acid in the connective tissue, joint spaces, or both.
Homocysteine: An amino acid associated with heart disease and
stroke. People with lupus often have high levels of homocysteine.
Hydrotherapy: Therapy that takes place in water.
Hyaluronan: The synthetic version of hyaluronic acid.
Hyaluronic acid: A substance in synovial fluid that lines the joints
and acts as a shock absorber.
Hyperuricemia: High blood levels of uric acid, which can cause gout.
Infectious arthritis: Forms of arthritis caused by infectious
agents, such as bacteria or viruses.
Inflammation: A typical reaction of tissue to injury or disease. It
is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.
Joint: The place where two or more bones are joined. Most joints are
composed of cartilage, joint space, fibrous capsule, synovium, and
Joint space: The area enclosed within the fibrous capsule and
Juvenile arthritis: A term used to refer to the types of arthritis
that affect children. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common
Ligaments: Stretchy bands of cord-like tissues that connect bone to
Lupus: A type of immune disorder known as an autoimmune disease that
can lead to inflammation of and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, heart,
lungs, blood vessels, and brain.
Lyme disease: A bacterial infection spread by tick bites. Untreated,
arthritis is sometimes a prominent symptom.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A diagnostic technique that
provides high-quality cross-sectional images of a structure of the body
without X-rays or other radiation.
Malar: A butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and
cheeks seen in those with lupus.
Manipulation: A treatment by which health professionals use their
hands to help restore normal movement to stiff joints.
Mg/dl: Milligrams per deciliter, a unit of measurement denoting the
proportion of solids in a liquid medium.
Microwave therapy: A type of deep heat therapy in which
electromagnetic waves pass between electrodes placed on the patient's
skin. This therapy creates heat that increases blood flow and relieves
muscle and joint pain.
Mobilization therapies: A group of treatments that include traction,
massage, and manipulation. When performed by a trained professional,
these methods can help control a patient's pain and increase joint and
NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a group of
medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and related drugs, used to
reduce inflammation that causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
Osteoporosis: A disease that causes bones to lose density and become
brittle. It is connected with heredity, and more common in older women
and those who take glucocorticoids.
Osteoarthritis: A type of arthritis that causes the cartilage in the
joints to fray and wear. In extreme cases, the cartilage may wear away
Polymyalgia rheumatica: A rheumatic disease that involves tendons,
muscles, ligaments, and tissues around the joints. Pain, aching, and
morning stiffness in the neck, shoulders, lower back, and hips
characterize the disease. It is sometimes the first sign of giant cell
arteritis (a disease of the arteries characterized by inflammation,
weakness, weight loss, and fever).
Polymyositis: A rheumatic disease that causes weakness and
inflammation of muscles.
Psoriatic arthritis: Joint inflammation that occurs in about 5% to
10% of people with psoriasis (a common skin disorder).
Reactive arthritis: A form of arthritis that develops after an
infection involving the lower urinary tract, bowel, or other organs.
Remission: A period when a chronic illness, such as arthritis, is
quiet and there are no or few signs of disease.
Rheumatic: A term referring to a disorder or condition that causes
pain or stiffness in the joints, muscles, or bone.
Rheumatoid arthritis: An inflammatory disease of the synovium, or
lining of the joint, that results in pain, stiffness, swelling,
deformity, and loss of function in the joints.
Rheumatoid factor: An antibody found in the bloodstream of some
people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatologist: A doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating
disorders that affect the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and
Risk factor: Something that increases a person's chance of
developing a disease, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and family
Scleroderma: A disease of the connective tissues and blood vessels
that leads to hardening of the skin. Scleroderma can also damage
internal organs such as the kidneys, lungs, heart, or gastrointestinal
Synovial fluid: Fluid released into movable joints by surrounding
membranes. The fluid lubricates the joint and reduces friction.
Synovium: A thin membrane that lines a joint and releases a fluid
that allows the joint to move easily.
Tendinitis: Inflammation of tendons caused by overuse, injury, or
related rheumatic conditions.
Tendon: Tough, fibrous cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone.
Through the skin.
Ultrasound: A treatment that uses sound waves to provide deep heat
and relieve pain.
Viscosupplementation: This procedures involve the injection of
gel-like substances (hyaluronates) into a joint to supplement the
viscous properties of synovial fluid. Currently, these injections are
approved for osteoarthritis of the knee joint, when more conservative
treatments have failed.