Every profession has developed its own language so that its professionals can communicate more efficiently and effectively. For example, lawyers must understand legal terms, plumbers must know the names of different types of pipes, and landscape designers must learn all the botanical names of plants. Similarly, massage therapists must learn the names of body areas and muscles as well as medical and healthcare-related terms.
There are many benefits to learning healthcare terminology (often called medical terminology). First, it helps you better understand written information in textbooks and verbal information conveyed during lectures and demonstrations. Your improved understanding leads to greater enjoyment of your massage training program (and better grades). In addition, massage therapists proficient in healthcare terminology can convey the benefits of massage more successfully to other healthcare providers. This leads not only to clearer communication but also to more respect. Other healthcare professionals are more likely to refer their clients or patients to a massage therapist who understands the human body and can convey that knowledge using the correct terms. Knowing and using a healthcare vocabulary can literally improve your ability to increase your income and attract new clients. Finally, a good vocabulary helps you feel confident when interacting with other healthcare providers and understand your role in an integrated healthcare team.
A knowledgeable massage therapist must be able to reason clinically and rule out massage contraindications. Understanding healthcare terminology supports clinical reasoning and helps a therapist when researching specific conditions and medications. It also improves the quality of the written documentation of the session.
This appendix aims to provide a resource to learn word elements and general healthcare terms, as well as the correct terms for body positions, regions, surface anatomy, planes, directions and important terms associated with the musculoskeletal system. However, it is unlikely that you will learn every term you will encounter during your massage career. For this reason, it is essential to keep a medical dictionary on hand as a reference, both as a student and later when you become a professional. Furthermore, since everyone usually makes pronunciation mistakes when learning new and sometimes complicated terms, you should proceed fearlessly and not be embarrassed by such mistakes. Note that the terms used in Eastern bodywork are discussed in Chapter 17, Eastern Approaches.