You can use this page as your own arthritis dictionary — add it to your Web browser’s list of bookmarks for quick reference.

Achilles Tendon

by Robert S. Dinsmoor

The tendon that connects the two large muscles of the calf to the heel. Named after the warrior of Greek mythology, whose heel was his single vulnerable spot, the Achilles tendon, or heel cord, is the largest tendon in the body. It can withstand forces of 1,000 pounds or more. Many people know of the […]


by Robert S. Dinsmoor

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four main ligaments that stabilize the human knee. The ACL, located in the middle of the knee, keeps the tibia (shin bone) from sliding in front of the femur (thigh bone). The ACL can be injured by a hard impact on the side of the knee (as […]

ACR Score

by Robert S. Dinsmoor

A number indicating how much a person’s rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has improved, based on guidelines set forth by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The ACR score represents a percentage. An ACR20 score means that a person’s RA has improved by 20%, an ACR50 score means it has improved by 50%, and an ACR70 score […]

Anti-CCP Antibody

by Robert S. Dinsmoor

Anti–cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody, a protein produced as part of the process that leads to joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Blood tests for anti-CCP antibodies can help doctors diagnose RA and determine how severe it is likely to be. Antibodies are proteins and are normally made by the immune system in response to bacteria, […]


by Robert S. Dinsmoor

Proteins made by the B cells of the immune system, which recognize and neutralize foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. An antibody identifies a specific part of the target, known as an antigen, and binds to it so as to neutralize it. In a relatively recent form of treatment, monoclonal antibodies (highly specific antibodies […]


by Robert S. Dinsmoor

Medicines used to prevent and treat blood clots. Sometimes known as “blood thinners,” anticoagulants are given for a variety of conditions that increase the risk that a blood clot will form. The two most common anticoagulants are warfarin (Coumadin) and heparin. One of the blood’s most important properties is its ability to coagulate, or clot. […]

Antinuclear Antibodies

by Robert S. Dinsmoor

Proteins in the blood of some people with autoimmune conditions such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus). Testing the blood for antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) can help to diagnose these conditions. Antibodies are normal immune-system cells that recognize and attack foreign substances in the body. However, in people with autoimmune conditions, antibodies can turn against […]

Antiphospholipid Syndrome

by Robert S. Dinsmoor

A disorder that increases the risk that blood clots will form in the veins and arteries. Antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) affects many more women than men. Sometimes nicknamed “sticky blood syndrome,” it can appear on its own but is often associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus) and other autoimmune conditions. People with APS have […]

B Cells

by Robert S. Dinsmoor

Cells in the immune system that help to kick off an immune response. Ordinarily, the immune system clears out damaged tissues and protects the body from invaders such as bacteria and viruses. However, in people with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), the immune system attacks the body’s own […]

Biologic Response Modifiers

by Robert S. Dinsmoor

Drugs for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and related conditions that mimic the effects of proteins that are naturally manufactured by the body’s immune system. These genetically-engineered drugs inhibit cells and chemicals that normally cause or worsen inflammation, reducing inflammation and protecting joints. Biologics, as they are sometimes called, do this in different ways. Adalimumab (brand […]

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