A knee to the back brought down NFL player Tony Romo during a recent game against the Washington Redskins. Romo was seen lying on the field in obvious pain and limping into the locker room, a sight that sparked a wave of dread among Cowboys fans. It was later revealed that the collision broke two transverse processes in his spine, causing him to miss the following game that took place this past Sunday. This announcement brought up two big questions among fans -- namely, “What does Romo’s latest injury mean for his career?” and, “What in the world is a transverse process?”
If you take your hand and run it over your spine, you will feel ridges that are commonly mistaken for the body of the vertebrae. These ridges are actually the spinous process, a long bone that protrudes out of the vertebra. The transverse process is a deeper wing-like structure that is attached to the body of the vertebra. A fracture to the transverse process is common among athletes and is usually caused by an incident involving trauma, such as a big hit in football, car accident, or fall.
This fracture is painful and causes inflammation and damage to the surrounding tissue – but it will not mean the end of a career for Tony Romo. The first step in his healing process is to control the pain, usually with the use of ice therapy and pain medicine. A brace may be used to help protect the injured area and prevent any bending, twisting and lifting movements. Once he has his pain under control, sport-specific physical therapy will help him restore his function and motion while regaining strength in his abdominal and back muscles, allowing him to safely return to the field.
So far, Romo’s treatments seem to be working – so it’s possible that we’ll get to see him play against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Sunday.
We wish Tony Romo the best of luck!
If you are suffering from back pain as the result of an injury or accident, call Dr. Chetan Patel at the Spine Health Institute. He can get you back in the game in no time.