What is the spinous process?

The spinous process is a knob-shaped bone at the very top of the arch, extending off the back of each vertebra in the spine. If you ran a finger up the length of your spine, these would be the bones you can actually feel through the skin. In addition to protecting the spinal cord, a main role of the spinous process is a site for the attachment of spinal muscles and ligaments to the spine. If you are dealing with neck or back pain associated with the spinous process, the information outlined below can help you take an active role in the treatment of your condition and guide you through your journey to wellness.

Location of the spinous process in the vertebrae

A typical vertebra is divided into two parts, front and back. The front or anterior of the vertebra, facing out toward the chest, consists of an oval vertebral body. The vertebrae are cushioned on the top and bottom by rubbery discs that absorb shock and help with movement. The back, or posterior, of the vertebra is made of several elements that form a protective arch for the spinal cord to travel through. These elements include:

  • The spinous process, forming the top of the arch and attaching muscles to ligaments
  • Two transverse processes and two pedicles that extend off the left and right of each vertebra
  • A superior and inferior articular process on each vertebra where the laminae and the pedicles meet

Treatment for conditions related to the spinous process

Even with all of these strong elements, the spine is still vulnerable to a range of injuries and degenerative conditions because of the amount of weight it must support while still allowing for movement. These spine conditions are common and do not always cause symptoms unless they put pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve root. Common spine conditions include:

For those diagnosed with conditions of the spine that are impacting the ability to function in everyday life, the outpatient procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute may be able to help. If you have exhausted conservative treatment options and are concerned about the risks and difficulties of traditional open back surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to find out about our minimally invasive procedures, which are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open neck or back surgeries.^

Our muscle-sparing procedures treat neck and back conditions by using a less than 1-inch incision, which leads to no lengthy recovery^ and less risk of complication than a traditional procedure. We have helped more than 75,000 patients find pain relief from their conditions since 2005.

Reach out to Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.