Spinous Process Definition | Back Pain and Neck Pain Medical Glossary

Spinous Process Definition

Spinous process is a bony projection off the posterior (back) of each vertebra. The spinous process protrudes where the laminae of the vertebral arch join and provides the point of attachment for muscles and ligaments of the spine. Spinous processes are the ridges that can be felt through the skin along the back of the spine. Incidents of abrupt torsion in the neck such as whiplash can cause the spinous process to fracture. The fracture called a "clay shoveler's fracture" typically occurs in the upper spine at C6 (cervical 6), C7 (cervical 7) or T1 (thoracic 1).