Transverse Process Fracture

Transverse Process Fracture

A transverse process is a bony protrusion from the back of a vertebrae bone in the spine. There is one on each side of every vertebrae in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.

Transverse process fracture symptoms

Transverse process fracture of the spine include sudden pain in the back at the time of injury. There will be decreased range of motion of the affected area of the spine and pain when trying to bend or twist the affected area. In particular there may be tenderness and swelling around the site of the fracture.

Transverse process fracture explained

A transverse process fracture is quite a rare injury. It usually results from a sudden extreme twisting or side bending movement. Occasionally it may be due to a direct impact to the process itself, although they are pretty well covered by muscle to this is not common.

Avulsion fractures of the transverse process may also occur in the lumbar spine. The Psoas muscle attaches to the transverse processes and a strong contraction of this muscle may cause one or more fractures.

Because of the location of the fracture it is unlikely to cause any instability of the spine or any damage to the spinal cord.


If injury to the vertebrae is suspected always seek medical attention at soon as possible. An X-ray will be taken to confirm the diagnosis and the extent of the injury. The presence of associated injuries should also be investigated due to the level of force required to fracture a transverse process. CT or MRI scans may also be performed.

Providing there is no associated injury and the transverse process is not displaced, then the majority of fractures are treated conservatively, without surgery. A brace may be used to ensure the spine is kept still and straight to allow healing of the bone. A gradual introduction of spinal movement can be used once the bone has healed and the patient is pain-free.

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