Derek Carr’s Transverse Process Fracture

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Shouldn’t Keep Him Down for Long

When the words “spine” and “fracture” are used in the same sentence, it’s rarely a good thing. Especially when those words are referring to a top NFL quarterback following a play in which he suffered a very hard knee to the back while being twisted awkwardly to the ground, the impression you get isn’t exactly comforting.

But – thankfully – the transverse process fracture recently suffered by Oakland Raiders’ QB Derek Carr during a game against the Denver Broncos does not involve the critical central structural support for the spine and probably won’t keep him sidelined for more than a game or two.

The Spine Health Institute treats a wide variety of spinal issues via conservative and minimally invasive techniques at its offices in Altamonte Springs, Oviedo and Lake Mary. Click here to see the practice’s specialties.

Playing Through the Pain

While not terribly serious, that doesn’t mean this type of injury isn’t painful. In fact, pain will likely be the primary limiting factor for Carr going forward in terms of how much of it he can play through, and how well. But the transverse process is the bony protrusion extending from both sides of each vertebra; it isn’t vital to the spine’s load-bearing capacity and it doesn’t contact the all-important spinal cord. So a fracture of this part of the spine doesn’t render the back unstable, and is not likely to get worse due to further activity.

Two quarterbacks who know all about playing through this type of pain are North Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton and Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo – both of whom have suffered transverse process fractures in past seasons (Newton’s was from a car accident) and missed just a single game while recovering. It’s not a bad bet that Carr will follow their lead.

Dr. Chetan Patel is an award-winning spine surgeon right here in Central Florida. If you or a loved one are experiencing significant back pain, chances are he can help. Call him for an appointment at Call866-986-7494 as soon as possible.

Diagnosis Can Be difficult

Transverse process fractures are not all that uncommon in football, especially when a player suffers a direct blow to the back from someone’s knee or helmet. Carr’s injury was at first described as nothing more than back spasms, and it took three different tests to diagnose it – initial X-rays and an MRI were inconclusive, but a CAT scan detected the problem. The latest reports indicate it is an “avulsion fracture,” meaning it occurred at a spot in the lumbar region where a tendon or ligament is connected to the bone.


Treatment for a transverse process fracture is typically conservative and may involve wearing a back brace followed by a slow and steady increase in activity depending on the pain. Surgery is rarely required. So while Carr was forced to miss the end of the Bronco’s game as well as last week’s game against Baltimore, there’s an excellent chance that a tough guy like him will be back in action as soon as October 15 against the Los Angeles Chargers. At any rate, we certainly wouldn’t count him out!

If you’ve been suffering with back pain that just won’t quit, it’s time to consult a specialist. Request a consultation at the Spine Health Institute in Altamonte Springs or Oviedo by calling Call407-303-5452 today.


Derek Carr out at least 2 weeks with transverse process fracture. 10/3/2017.

Derek Carr rollercoaster will likely come to rest Sunday. 10/7/2017. The San Diego Union-Tribune:

Transverse Process Fracture. N.D.

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