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CJ McCollum Playing With Fractured L3 Vertebra

Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest says the Blazers guard is making a go of it with a back fracture

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

CJ McCollum has played the last three games with a back injury, a fractured vertebra that has not kept him out of action, but may be hampering his play. Dwight Jaynes of NBCSports Northwest quotes unnamed sources saying the Trail Blazers guard “has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday”. describes the L3 vertebra as part of a group in the lumbar spine area and cites symptoms of an L3 injury as follows:

This is the middle vertebra of the lumbar spine, and the first vertebra to not contain a section of the spinal cord. Common symptoms of an L3 lumbar spinal injury include weakness, numbness, and loss of flexibility in the legs, hips, and/or groin.

McCollum scored 29 points in 39 minutes against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, then 16 in 39 minutes against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. He averaged 19 shot attempts in those games.

Such injuries are not common. They typically involve strong forces and are regarded as a “freak” injury, Derek Carr, the quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders, formerly of Oakland, suffered a transverse process fracture in 2017. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, such injuries improve week over week.

Medically, a transverse process fracture gets better week by week. The first game back at two weeks can be tough, but symptoms usually are gone 4-6 weeks afterward.

That said, basketball does not enjoy the time off that football does. Tonight McCollum shot 2-14 for 8 points, also playing 39 minutes.