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Many words in the English language are a part of common, everyday speech. On the other hand, injury jargon is often used by medical providers, sometimes without patients really understanding what words really mean.  Below are some common terms used when discussing injury and what they mean, in plain English.

TENDON A tendon is an cord of strong fibres located at each end of a muscle that attaches a muscle to bone.

LIGAMENT A ligament is a fibrous connective tissue which attaches bone to bone, and usually serves to hold bones together and keep them stable.

SPRAIN A sprain is an injury to a ligament.  Commonly, this involves the ligament being overstretched and some ligament fibres being torn.

STRAIN A strain is an injury to a muscle in which the muscle fibres tear as a result of over-stretching or excessive force.

INFLAMMATION/SWELLING Inflammation is a normal chemical reaction activated by injury to an area.  Swelling is a result of the increased movement of fluid and white blood cells into the area of inflammation. The release of chemicals and the compression of nerves in the area of the injury cause pain. The pain and swelling can limit use of the injured area, serving to protect it from further injury.

CHRONIC An injury that persists for a long time or is constantly recurring.

ACUTE Sudden onset of injury and of short duration.

TENDONITIS Inflammation of the tendon, commonly caused through injury or overuse.

SCAR TISSUE Fibrous (thickened) tissue that forms when normal tissue is damaged by injury or surgery. Scar tissue is the body’s normal replacement tissue for healing body parts that are injured.  There is individual variation as to how much scar tissue is laid down and how thick it is.  Scar tissue remodels over time and starts behaving like your normal, healthy tissue.

AGGRAVATING ACTIVITY Any activity that causes a worsening or increase in symptoms.


At the Merivale Hand Clinic we do our best to ensure that we give you clear explanations of your injury including the cause, treatment options and expected time frames for healing.  If you do not understand the information given to you, please ask your therapist to explain in a different way so you can understand – we aim to present information so it is understandable. 

The Merivale Hand Clinic Team.


Filed under Hand Therapy \ Injury