International Research Foundation for RSD/CRPS

Glossary of Medical Terms

Allodynia - pain is produced by all stimuli to the skin that do not normally induce pain (such as touch, pressure and warmth).

Atrophy - a wasting of a normal developed organ or tissue due to degeneration of cells. This may be due to disease, aging or malnutrition.

Autonomic nervous system - the part of the nervous system responsible for the control of bodily functions that are not consciously directed, including heart beat, intestinal movements, sweating, etc.

Bone deossification - demineralization of bone.

Brawny edema - thickening and dusky discoloration of edematous tissue.

Causalgia - severe burning type pain following injury to a major nerve.

Cyanotic - blue color due to decreased oxygen in blood or decreased blood flow.

Dystonia - a state of abnormal muscle tone.

Dystrophy - progressive changes that may result from defective nutrition of tissue.

Edema - excessive accumulation of fluid in body tissue.

Etiology - cause of a specific disorder.

Hyperalgesia - increased sensitivity and lowered threshold to pain stimuli (such as occurs in a superficial burn of the skin).

Hyperasthesia - over-sensitivity to touch and light pressure.

Hyperhydrosis - excessive sweating.

Hyperpathia - excessive reaction to painful stimuli. The pain increases with each rapid tap on the skin and the pain lasts longer than usual when the stimulus stops.

Intractable - resistant to treatment.

Lancinating pain - spontaneous sharp jabs of pain in the affected region that seem to come from nowhere.

Ischemia - pertaining to an inadequate blood supply.

Osteoporosis - thinning of the bone.

Paroxysmal dysesthesia - spontaneous sharp jabs of pain in the affected region that seem to come from nowhere.

Periphery - the part of the body away from the center.

Pilomotor changes - changes in the amount of goose flesh due to chilling effect on skin.

Perivascular infiltration - the abnormal entry of a substance around blood vessels

Raynaud's phenomenon - spasm of the arteries of the toes or fingers with paleness and numbness of the fingers triggered by cool environments and relieved by warmth.

Reflex - a reaction, an involuntary movement or response to a stimulus applied to the periphery and transmitted to the nerve centers in the brain or spinal cord.

Stimulus - anything that arouses action in the muscles, nerves or other excitable tissue.

Subcutaneous - beneath the skin.

Sudomotor changes - increased or decreased sweating

Subluxation - an incomplete dislocation.

Sympathetic nervous system - one of two divisions of the autonomic system (the other is the parasympathetic) having fibers leaving the central nervous system.

Syndrome - a combination of signs and/or symptoms that form a distinct clinical picture indicative of a particular disorder.

Thermography - a study to measure heat produced by different parts of the body.

Trophic - resulting from interruption of nerve supply.

Vascularity - relating to blood vessels.

Vasoconstriction - narrowing of blood vessels.

Vasodilitation - widening of blood vessels.

Vasomotor - causing widening or narrowing of blood vessels, denoting the nerves which have this action. Vasomotor changes may produce a sensation of coolness or warmth. Vasospasm - contraction of the muscle coats of blood vessels.


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