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Spinal Instability


patient being treated for spine instability

The spine is comprised of bones (called vertebrae), which stack on top of each other with a spongy material (called a “disc”) positioned in between each. As the disc degenerates, it loses tension, allowing the disc to bulge, which, in turn, allows increased movement in-between the vertebrae. This movement is called spinal instability. Spinal instability encourages arthritic overgrowth of the joints, as well as bone spurs.


Spinal instability produces significant and sudden back pain, which is caused when the vertebrae slide or rotate abnormally irritating nerves and ligaments.


Causes of spinal instability include:

  • External trauma or fracture of the spine
  • Metastatic tumors in the spine
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Congenital defects in the spinal cord
  • Scoliosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Disorders of the connective tissues
  • Poor lifting techniques


  • Severe back pain, especially when lifting objects, bending and straightening the spine
  • A “locking” feeling during a physical activity such as getting up from a chair
  • Muscle spasms
  • Radiating pain into the legs and buttocks, generally affecting one side of the body
  • Numbness in the lower extremities and arms


For mild spinal instability, physical therapy focused on strengthening muscles in the spine, pain medication, and anti-inflammatory medicines may be an effective treatment.


When spinal instability is more severe, surgery may be necessary. BSSNY surgeons use the most advanced surgical methods to treat spinal instability specifically, precisely, and with minimal damage to surrounding tissues, reducing patient risk and increasing long-term success. Two common procedures for the condition include:

  • Microdiscectomy – The surgical removal of the intervertebral disc that is impinging on the spinal nerve.
  • Spinal Fusion– The fusing together of two or more spinal vertebrae to prevent any movement between them and improve the stability of the spine.

Contact us today for an appointment!