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Are you guilty of making these mistakes?

Many times each week I have to correct medical terminology. Unfortunately, many physicians may not understand the difference or have a planned script to describe musculoskeletal problems.

One of my primary goals is to explain to each person exactly the nature of their condition. I hope I clear up some misinterpretations of these medical terms.


Fracture versus broken.  I’ve often hear patients say it’s only fractured not broken. Both terms mean exactly the same thing. A fractured bone is not less than a broken bone. There are many types of broken bones all having different descriptive names depending on the type of fracture it is. The bottom line fracture and broken of the same


Strain versus sprain.  These 2 terms are very different, but used interchangeably.   A strain is an injury of the muscle or the tendons. A sprain is an injury to the structures that support a joint such as the ligaments.


Bursitis versus tendinitis. The difference between these 2 terms is often difficult to explain to patients since most doctors diagnose bursitis. 90% of the times the condition is not bursitis but tendinitis.

Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendon usually near the joint. Bursitis is an inflammation of a thin sack of fluid usually underneath the tendon. It can be in other locations as well.

The tendon connects the muscle to the bone. The bursar permits smooth movement of one body part over another.

Occasionally you can have both tendinitis and bursitis in the same area.


Arthritis. This one’s my favorite. No matter what your symptoms or what the x-ray say everybody is diagnosed with arthritis. It’s the word no one wants to hear.

I would like to quote from a medical textbook written by John Menell M.D. he is speaking about pain in the joint.” This situation exists even in the absence of clinically or radiographically signs of pathology within the joint. There are more times than there should be when the stiffness and pain persists; then, all too often, many of us try to explain it away telling the patient that it is arthritis”.

There are numerous types of arthritis. The common arthritis is a wear-and-tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) this occurs over time with the joint surface can become thin and calcium buildup in the joint and tendons. The funny thing about this arthritis is usually it hurts when you get up in the morning and the pain decreases throughout the day. Does the x-ray show less arthritis in the afternoon than in the morning?

The bottom line at that this wear-and-tear arthritis can be painful in itself. Most often times is the stiffness of the muscles around the joint that is causing the pain. As you move throughout the day the muscle stiffness decreases.

Aside from a broken bone what is the treatment for strains, sprains, bursitis, tendinitis and arthritis? Pharmaceuticals both over-the-counter and prescribed. The main goal is blocking the symptoms.

Incidentally the common arthritis is not an inflammatory condition. The proper term is arthrosis. The prescription of any type of anti-inflammatory for common arthritis does not work.

What does work is directing treatment directly to the area such as ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, chiropractic manipulation, and manipulation of the muscles and tendons which I discussed on a recent article. Occasionally manipulation of the joint itself.


Because of the enormous problem of opioid addiction, primarily caused by the prescription of painkilling drugs, targeted and direct treatment to the area should be the 1st line of treatment.


I hope this clears up some misconceptions. If you have any further questions about medical terminology or confused about certain conditions you can respond on the blog on my website.

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