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Missed lumbar transverse process fractures in a high school football player


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Structural and chiropractic

J Manipulative Physiol Ther.2001 Feb;24(2):123-6.


R Brynin, L Gardiner


Objective: To discuss the case of a football player who had suffered a transverse process fracture of the lumbar spine that was overlooked on initial chiropractic and medical examination.Clinical features: A 17-year-old male football player had been speared in the back by another player. He reported severe initial pain that caused him to fall to the ground, and there was a moderate degree of pain at the time of his chiropractic examination 1 week after injury.Intervention and outcome: Initial chiropractic treatment consisted of spinal manipulation to the lumbar spine. Follow-up care consisted of lumbar spine radiographs that showed evidence of a lumbar transverse process fracture at 2 levels. The boy was referred to his medical doctor, who was not convinced of the presence of a fracture and returned him to play. A computed tomography scan was subsequently performed; this confirmed fractures of the transverse processes of L2 and L3. The patient was precluded from contact sports for 4 weeks. Chiropractic care 3 weeks after injury included physiotherapy and drop table mobilization to the sacroiliac joints. The patient returned to play 4 weeks after the injury.Conclusion: Transverse process fractures commonly occur secondary to blunt trauma in contact sports such as football. With high-force direct trauma, radiographs should be performed to rule out fracture before returning the athlete to play or commencing spinal manipulation.

Publication Date: 

2001 Feb



Brynin, R., Gardiner, L. (2001) 'Missed lumbar transverse process fractures in a high school football player', J Manipulative Physiol Ther.2001 Feb;24(2):123-6.

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