Spinal Instability, also sometimes called lumbar instability, is defined as the inability of the spinal column to maintain its normal configuration under normal usage conditions. A healthy spine provides structure, protection and support for the body and its internal organs. An unstable spinal cord can no longer hold together the spinal ligaments, muscles, discs and bones, in such a way as to provide these essential functions. In other words, an unstable spine means that the integrity of the spinal column has been compromised.
Micro-instability, or mild spinal instability, may be largely asymptomatic and may correct itself spontaneously, while macro-instability, or severe spinal instability, may lead to damage to the spinal cord or nerve roots or to painful spinal deformity.
Causes of Spine Instability
Spinal instability can originate from a variety of sources:
Neoplastic diseases affecting the spine (the vertebrae, intervertebral discs or spinal ligaments)
Common Symptoms and Signs of Lumbar Instability
Spinal macro-instability symptoms are generally similar to sciatica: often a deep, severe pain that starts low on one side of the back and then shoots down the buttock and the leg with certain movements. The pain can be most severe after prolonged sitting and standing, or on standing from a low, seated position. Coughing, sneezing or laughing may exacerbate the pain. Pain may also be accompanied by weakness in the leg or foot. Abnormal movement can also trigger extremely painful muscle spasms.
Signs of spinal macro-instability may start with spine pain, or weakness and/or numbness of the arms or legs.
How Does NSPC Treat Spinal Instability?
NSPC is home to world-class board-certified neurosurgeons and surgical equipment that can provide innovative and effective treatments for spinal instability. Cutting-edge CT and MRI machines give our doctors the ability to precisely diagnose the causes of spinal instability by examining for herniated discs and misaligned vertebrae.
As part of the normal aging process, many people experience the loss of some amount of spinal integrity due to conditions such as spinal arthritis or degenerative disc disease. Mild asymptomatic cases of instability may not require intervention, or may be relieved through physical therapy to build up surrounding spinal muscles to prevent pain and vertebral slippage.
NSPC offers a broad spectrum of appropriate treatments for this condition, depending on the severity and cause of the symptoms. Moderate to severe cases of spinal instability often require surgical treatment. NSPC neurosurgeons are skilled in the surgical procedures developed to address different aspects of instability.
Spinal fusion surgery is often used to repair the instability and reduce the pain caused by worn-out joints. By fusing fusing two or more vertebrae together, the spinal column becomes more balanced.
During a microdiscectomy a board-certified surgeon removes the disc that is pressing on the nerve. By employing a very special microscope, the neurosurgeon makes a very small incision and less tissue is damaged during this procedure. This and other minimally invasive surgical techniques are what make our practice first rate.
Our comprehensive and multidisciplinary programs provide superior spinal instability treatments in a caring, personalized environment in the New York area.
Contact us today for an appointment or consultation.