Transverse Process Fracture



Transverse process fractures are caused by trauma from:

  • Falls
  • Car, motorcycle, or pedestrian accidents
  • Severe and sudden twisting or bending
  • Severe blows to the back and spine
  • Violence, such as a gunshot

Risk Factors

Transverse process fractures are more common in older adults. Other things that raise the risk are:

  • Having health problems that weaken bones, such as osteoporosis
  • Low muscle mass
  • Playing sports that involve sudden twists and turns or extreme contact
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Being around violence



Transverse process fractures can happen at any place in the spinal column. They may cause:

  • Severe pain that may be worse when moving
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Numbness, tingling, or weak muscles
  • Problems moving the injured part of the spine
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. Questions will also be asked about how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will also look for nerve damage.

Pictures may be taken to look at the spine. This can be done with:

  • X-rays
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan



It can take up to 6 weeks to heal. The goal of treatment is to help the bones heal properly to prevent long term problems.


Support for a transverse process fracture can include:

  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • A back brace to support the bone as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion


People with a severe fracture may need surgery. Screws, rods, wires, or cages will be used to reconnect bone pieces and hold them in place.


Most fractures happen due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may prevent injury. This may be done through diet and exercise.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.