Transverse process fracture

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The transverse process is the bony protuberance from the rear of the vertebrae in the spine. Remember that there is one on every side of the vertebrae in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine.

A transverse process fracture is considered as a rare injury. It typically occurs from abrupt extreme twisted or side bending movement. In some instances, it can be due to a direct strike to the process itself, but since it is covered with muscle, it is not common.

What are the indications of a transverse process fracture?

A transverse process fracture in the spine includes the following:

  • Abrupt back pain at the time of injury
    Transverse process fracture
    Abrupt back pain at the time of injury.
  • Diminished range of motion of the affected area
  • Pain is produced if attempting to bend or twist the affected area
  • Tenderness and swelling around the site of injury
  • Instability of the spine or damage to the spinal cord


If damage to the vertebrae is likely, it is vital to seek medical care right away. An X-ray is taken to verify a diagnosis and the degree of the injury. The presence of other injuries might also be assessed due to the level of force needed to break the transverse process. An MRI or CT scan might be required.

In case there are no other associated injuries and the transverse process is not displaced, conservative measures is enough. A brace is usually used to ensure that the spine remains straight to allow the bone to heal. This is followed by gradual spinal movement once the bone has healed and free from pain.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a transverse process fracture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage fractures by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.

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