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Glossary - S

Salter-Harris fracture: A traumatic fracture around or through the growth plate (the epiphyseal plate) of a bone in a child.

Sciatica: Pain resulting from irritation of the sciatic nerve, typically felt from the low back to behind the thigh and radiating down below the knee. While sciatica can result from a herniated disc directly pressing on the nerve, any cause of irritation or inflammation of this nerve can reproduce the painful symptoms of sciatica. Diagnosis is by observation of symptoms, physical and nerve testing, and sometimes by X-ray or MRI if a herniated disk is suspected.

Treatment options include avoiding movements that further irritate the condition, medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.

Shin splint: An inflammatory condition of the front part of the tibia (the big bone in the lower leg) that results from overuse as, for example, from running too much on hard roads or sidewalks. Shin splints are due to injury to the tendon (called the posterior peroneal tendon) and adjacent tissues in the front (anterior) of the lower leg.

The pain from shin splints is usually noticed early in exercise, then lessens, and reappears later in running. Characteristically, the pain is dull at first but with continuing trauma worsens. It may cause the person to stop running. Treatment involves a multifaceted approach of "relative rest." The aim is to restore the runner to a pain-free state.

Spasm: A brief, automatic jerking movement. A muscle spasm can be quite painful, with the muscle clenching tightly. A spasm of the coronary artery can cause angina. Spasms in various types of tissue may be caused by stress, medication, over-exercise, or other factors.

Spinal stenosis: Narrowing of the spaces in the spine, resulting in compression of the nerve roots or spinal cord by bony spurs or soft tissues, such as disks, in the spinal canal. This occurs most often in the lumbar spine (in the low back) but also occurs in the cervical spine (in the neck) and less often in the thoracic spine (in the upper back).

Spinal stenosis is most often caused by degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae due to osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects people at an earlier age than osteoarthritis does and is associated with inflammation and enlargement of the soft tissues of the joints. The portions of the vertebral column with the greatest mobility (for example, the neck area) are often the ones most affected in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Nonarthritic causes of spinal stenosis include tumors of the spine, trauma, Paget's disease of bone, and fluorosis. Pressure on the lower part of the spinal cord or on nerve roots branching out from that area may give rise to pain or numbness in the legs. Pressure on the upper part of the spinal cord (that is, the neck area) may produce similar symptoms in the shoulders, or even the legs. The symptoms vary depending location on the nerve tissues being irritated and the degree of irritation. When the neck is affected, it can result in unusual sensations in the arms and/or poor leg function and incontinence. When the low back is affected, the classic symptom is pain radiating down both legs while walking that is relieved by resting (called pseudoclaudication).

Sprain: An injury to a ligament that results from overuse or trauma. Sprains occurs when there is a stretch or tear in one or more ligaments, slightly elastic bands of tissue that keep the bones in place while permitting movement at a joint. The treatment of a sprain involves applying ice packs, resting and elevating the involved joint, and using anti-inflammatory medications. Depending on the severity and location of the sprain, support bracing can help. Local cortisone injections are sometimes given for persistent inflammation. Activity may be resumed gradually. Ice application after activity can reduce or prevent recurrent inflammation. Occasionally, supportive bracing can prevent reinjury. In severe sprains, orthopedic surgical repair may be performed.

Stress fracture: A fracture caused by repetitive stress, as may occur in sports, strenuous exercise, or heavy physical labor. Stress fractures are especially common in the metatarsal bones of foot, particularly in runners. Osteoporosis increases the possibility of stress fractures. Treatment is by rest, disuse, and sometimes splinting or casting to prevent reinjury during healing.

Subcutaneous hematoma:
A bruise.

A condition in which two or more of the fingers or toes are joined together. This joining can involve the bones or just the skin between the digits. Joining of the bones is called bony syndactyly. Webbing of the skin between the fingers without any joining of the bones is called cutaneous syndactyly.

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