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Terms Used to Describe Joints and Muscles

Some important terms

Arthritis - refers to inflammation of joint(s) and is characterised by pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness and limited movement.

Enthesitis - refers to inflammation at sites of insertion of tendon, muscle or fascia. Common sites of enthesitis are shown below; 

Arthralgia - refers to painful joints without overt swelling.

Myalgia - refers to muscle pain but usually without tenderness or weakness.

Myositis - refers to muscle pain and tenderness, often with weakness.

It is important to have a knowledge of surface anatomy and terminology to describe ranges of joint movement and posture.   More information is available in the pREMS section for each joint.

Further information and video examples to demonstrate Gower's sign, waddling gait and features of muscle disease are available. 

 Muscle Power Grading 




0 zero

No visible muscle contraction or movement



A flicker of muscle contraction but insufficient to cause limb movement



No limb movement against gravity but complete movement of limb with no gravity i.e., movement in horizontal plane



Complete movement of limb against gravity but no resistance



Complete range of movement against gravity but without full resistance



Complete range of movement against gravity with full resistance i.e., normal muscle strength


Joint count - a homunculus can be used. Swollen joints can be marked with an x and restricted joints can be circled. 


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