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.
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