This page is intended to help define some of the words used in the patient educational material in this section of our website.

I, Dr. Bowman, have tried to use both medical terms and the common terms together in the materials.

My experience is that patients want to learn the most about their particular problem and discuss it using appropriate terminology. 

Our job at Pittsburgh Foot and Hand Center is to thoroughly educator patient's about their particular foot or ankle problem as well as the treatment options. Highly educated patients often achieve the best results.

  • Proximal: Toward the midline or center part of the body. Away from the end of the hand or foot.
  • Distal: Towards the tip or away from the midline or center of the body. Towards the fingers or toes.
  • Dorsal: On the back of the hand, back of the body or top of the foot.
  • Palmar: On the palm side of the hand. Also called volar.
  • Plantar: On the bottom side of the foot or sole.
  • Radial: On the side of the arm/wrist/hand towards the radius or thumb.
  • Ulnar: On the side of the arm/wrist/hand towards the ulna or little finger.
  • Lateral: On the outside of the arm or leg.
  • Medial: On the inside of the arm or leg.
  • Transverse: Horizontal or across the axis of the arm/leg or bone.
  • Longitudinal: Vertical for in-line with the axis of the arm/leg or bone.
  • Oblique: Running at an angle to the axis of the arm/leg or bone.
  • Comminuted: In multiple pieces.
  • Tendon: A tough band-like structure that connects muscle to bone. It is made of collagen and covered by peritenon or tenosynovium.
  • Ligament: A tough band-like structure that connects bone the bone and is made of collagen.
  • Periosteum: The tough soft tissue covering the area around the bone.
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation (“itis”) or irritation of a tendon.
  • Tenosynovium: The slippery material covering a tendon inside of a tendon sheath or tunnel.
  • Tenosynovitis: Inflammation or irritation of the tenosynovium.
  • Arthritis: Irritation or inflammation of a joint (“arthros”- joint plus “itis”- inflammation).
  • Fusion: The procedure where two bones are permanently fixed together, eliminating the joint between them.
  • Osteotomy: The procedure of making a cut in the bone, commonly to realign the bone.
  • ORIF: Open reduction and internal fixation - the procedure to make an incision, aligned a fracture and fix the pieces with pins or screws.