Allopathic Physician (M.D.): medical doctor, requires completion of college (4 years) and medical school (4 years) before completing a residency program (at least 3 more years of specialized training.) Able to prescribe medications and perform surgery.

Blind epidural injection: epidural injection performed without fluoroscopic (xray) guidance (studies show up to 40% "miss rate" when performed without fluoroscopic guidance- see above)

Cervical spine: as in neck pain, the upper most portion of the spinal column consisting of 7 cervical vertebrae (bones)

Chiropractor (D.C.): generally requiring 4 years of study after at least 2 years of college; Doctors of Chiropractic diagnose and manually treat disorders of the spine, but are not trained to prescribe medications or perform surgery; considered the largest alternative medical profession.

Disc herniation, disc bulge, disc protrusion: results from injury/deformity of the intervertebral disk; may or may not cause pain

Epidural steroid injection: placement of a cortisone-like medication within the epidural space (lining that surrounds the spinal cord and nerves.) Goal: reduce swelling and pain related to narrowed/compressed structures near/adjacent to the spine or spinal canal

Facet joints: the joints between each of the vertebral segments, located posteriorly

Fluoroscopic epidural steroid injection: xray guided procedure to reduce inflammation & pain; requires special facility (lead lined room or surgical suite) and equipment that rotates around the examination table, allowing for precision, safety and comfort.

Intervertebral discs: structures between the vertebrae (bones that make up the spine) that act as cushions, located anteriorly

Low back pain: the most common cause of sick leave and disability in the US; majority of which improves with conservative (non-operative or nonsurgical treatment)

Lumbar spine: as in low back pain, the lower most portion of the spinal column, consisting of 5 lumbar vertebrae (bones)

Lumbar sprain/strain: injury to the connective structures (ligaments and muscles) that support the bony structures (vertebrae) in the lower back

Neurosurgeon (DO or MD): 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, then 5-6 years of specialized Neurosurgery residency training. Recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists

Osteopathic Physician (D.O.or Doctor of Osteopathy): 4 years of college, 4 years of osteopathic medical school, and residency; able to prescribe medications & perform surgery - same scope of practice as an MD - but also receives specialized training in manual techniques to reduce pain and improve somatic dysfunction

Physiatrist: physician (MD or DO) who has completed college, medical school (4 years,) and residency training (4 years) in the field of Physiatry (aka Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR); specializes in prescribing physical modalities and exercises to treat back pain and disorders of the spine, muscles and joints - without surgery.

Physiatry (aka Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R)): Medical specialty that focuses on restoring function and optimizing recovery from spine, muscle and nerve injuries nonsurgically. Recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists See Physiatrist.

Physical therapist: therapist who has completed college (4 years) and physical therapy degree (atleast 2 years.) Physical Therapists instruct patients regarding exercise and stretching techniques, along with direct administration of modalities (heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, etc.) to help the rehabilitation process

Radiculopathy: signs/symptoms that may include weakness, sensory loss, changes in reflexes due to spinal nerve compression, damage or injury

Sciatica: pain that may be due to nerve irritation or damage, sometimes described as pain, burning, electric, numbness, pins & needles, that shoots/radiates/travels down the buttock, hip, thigh and/or parts of the leg

Spinal canal: passageway for the spinal cord that extends the entire length of the spine, formed by the proper alignment of the vertebral bones

Spinal stenosis: potentially painful condition of the lumbar spine; narrowing of the space in the spinal canal, often due to degenerative wear-and-tear and/or arthritic changes, including intervertebral disc herniation/protrusion; may be associated with symptoms such as radiculopathy, pinched nerve or sciatica

Spine Surgeon (DO or MD): 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, at least 5 years of specialized Orthopedic Surgery residency training. Recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialists

Sprain: injury to ligaments (the structures that connect bone to bone)

Strain: injury to tendons (the structures that connect muscle to bone)