Clay-shoveler’s fracture is a breakage of the vertebrae in the spine as a consequence of stress in the neck or upper back. It is often described as a steady fracture during the process of a vertebra happening at C7 or C6, classically at some of the cervical or thoracic vertebrae.
Clay-shoveler’s fracture usually occurs in laborers who engage in tasks involving lifting weights with the arms stretched. Examples of these actions include physical activities like shoveling soil, rubble or snow up and over the head backwards, using a pickax or scythe, and pulling out roots.
Back in Australia in the 1930s, men digging deep ditches tossed clay 10 to 15 feet above their heads using long handled shovels. Rather than separating, the clay would stick to the spade; the employee would hear a pop followed by a sudden pain between the shoulder blades, making them unable to continue working.
Mechanism of Injury: Clay Shoveler’s Fracture
The mechanism of injury is thought to be secondary to reflex and muscle strain through the supraspinous ligaments with force transmission.
The spinous process is pulled on by the enormous force. The fracture is diagnosed by plain film examination. The shear power of the muscles (trapezius and rhomboid muscles) yanking on the spine at the bottom of the neck actually tears from the bone of the spine.
Symptoms of clay-shoveler’s fracture include burning, “knife- like” pain in the level of the fractured spine between the top shoulder blades. The pain may increase with repeated action that strains the muscles of the upper back. The broken spine and muscles that are nearby are exquisitely tender. Often these injuries found incidentally years later when the cervical spine is imaged for other explanations and only are unrecognised in the time.
Acutely, they tend to be associated with:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- sudden muscle contraction
- Blows into the spine
The fracture is seen on lateral radiographs as an oblique through the spinous process, usually of C7. There’s usually substantial displacement. Other radiographic characteristics of the fracture include ghost signals on an AP view (i.e. double spinous process of C6 or C7 caused by displaced fractured spinous process).
Clay Shoveler’s Fracture
Atypical Clay Shoveler’s Fracture
While the extreme pain slowly subsides in days to weeks, the region may intermittently develop burning pain with certain activities that involve prolonged extending of their arms (such as computer function).
No therapy is required for most patients. Physical therapy, pain drugs, and massage can be of help. Surgical removal of the suggestion of the spine is performed for anyone who have pain.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .Â
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Automobile Accident Injuries
Whiplash, among other automobile accident injuries, are frequently reported by victims of an auto collision, regardless of the severity and grade of the accident. The sheer force of an impact can cause damage or injury to the cervical spine, as well as to the rest of the spine. Whiplash is generally the result of an abrupt, back-and-forth jolt of the head and neck in any direction. Fortunately, a variety of treatments are available to treat automobile accident injuries.
TRENDING TOPIC: EXTRA EXTRA: New PUSH 24/7Â®ï¸ Fitness Center
The information herein on "What is a Clay-Shoveler's Fracture?" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez DC or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card