Posture and Comfort

by Hugh Babington Smith


Medical terminology is so wide and comprehensive that any glossary short of an encyclopaedia would be incomplete. This glossary is designed to give you an idea as to what some of the commoner terms in lay use mean. Note that terms such as ‘tennis elbow’ appear within the definitions.


Inflammation/infection of the bursae that surround joints such as the patella on the knee (housemaid’s knee), the metatarsal head on the foot (bunion) and on the hand (beat hand).

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Caused by pressure on the median nerve as it passes from the forearm into the hand within the firm-walled carpal tunnel; many signs and symptoms, causes and treatments.


Pain in the elbow, often radiating into the forearm; inflammation caused by strain of forearm muscles at their point of origin; sometimes called tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow or javelin-thrower’s arm; many occupational causes.


Unspecific condition; diffuse musculoskeletal aching associated with tender points in the neck and shoulders.

Frozen shoulder

Aches and pains with impairment of movement; little understood and very difficult to get rid of.


Musculoskeletal disorder.


Occupational Overuse Syndrome – New Zealand term for RSI.

RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)

Referring to damage to muscles, nerves, tendons, tendon sheaths or other soft tissues resulting from overuse or misuse, this term covers ‘somewhere between 14 and 23 medical conditions’. It is commonly understood to be felt in the wrists, but other parts of the body are also affected (see What is Posture?).


A group of signs and symptoms which, when present together, allow the description and naming of a particular condition.


Inflammation of the tendons, which may be followed by thickening to the extent that movement is impaired; includes trigger finger.


Inflammation of the lining of the tendon sheath; can become permanent if not identified early.


Work related MSD (Musculoskeletal disorder).


Work related upper limb disorder; another term for RSI: signs and symptoms may not be work related, so it is necessary to identify the cause if litigation is possible.