What is Spinal Instability?

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 9, 2014

spinal instabilitySpinal instability is sort of a blanket term used to describe a condition in which the spine cannot maintain its proper structure and placement under normal conditions. This article will discuss the causes of spinal instability, its symptoms, as well as treatment options for the condition.

What Causes Spinal Instability?

Spinal instability most commonly affects the lumber (low back) region of the spine. Instability can be caused by injury, physical trauma, disc degeneration, or simple wear-and-tear on the vertebra over time. Other pre-existing conditions like scoliosis can also exacerbate the instability.

Some of the common symptoms that denote spinal instability are:

  • Back Pain (either mild, or sudden and intense)
  • Leg Pain (depending of the location of the instability and the nerves affected)
  • Tingling or numbness in the legs and arms

As with most conditions, instability in the spine can be mild (causing only mild discomfort) or severe (resulting in severe pain and nerve damage). Regardless of its severity, spine instability should always be diagnosed and treated by a spine specialist. 

How to Treat Spinal Instability

An unstable spine should be treated immediately before it leads to other serious injuries or conditions. The first step in treating the instability will be a series of physical exams and diagnostic tests to determine the extent and location of the instability. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment options can be prescribed accordingly. Depending on the specifics of the instability, various treatments may be helpful. Usually treatment options begin with conservative methods like physical therapy, bracing, and pain management techniques. If the instability is causing immense pain or preventing daily activities, minimally invasive surgery may be recommended to correct the instability.

If you suspect you may have spinal instability, make an appointment with a skilled spine doctor to discuss your condition and your options for treatment.

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