Spinal Instability

OverviewTreatments

Symptoms

Symptoms of spinal instability may include neck or back pain. If the nerve roots are compressed or irritated, pain may be present in the arms or legs. Patients may also have muscle spasms.

Description

Excessive motion of vertebral bodies in relation to one another is considered spinal instability. This can be the result of an injury, degenerative process, tumor, previous surgery or congenital condition.

Non-surgical treatments include pain management, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. If significant pain persists, surgery may be considered to stabilize the spine. Surgical options generally include dynamic stabilization and posterior lumbar fusion (PLF).

What is Spinal Instability

Excessive motion of vertebral bodies in relation to one another is considered spinal instability. Some motion is, of course, normal. Motion can be described as instability when the motion is significantly greater than that at adjacent levels. Spinal instability can be the result of an injury, degenerative process, tumor, previous surgery or congenital condition. Symptoms of spinal instability may include neck or back pain, nerve pain and muscle spasms.

Screening and Diagnosis of Spinal Instability

Once a complete physical examination is performed, the diagnosis of spinal instability should be confirmed using X-rays to assess the alignment of the spine. Other tests include an MRI or CT scan to evaluate nerve compression and bony or ligament insufficiency.

Treatments for Spinal Instability

Non-surgical treatments for spinal instability include pain management using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. If significant pain persists, surgery may be considered to stabilize the spine. Surgical options generally include dynamic stabilization and posterior lumbar fusion (PLF). It is important to discuss treatment options with your doctor in deciding which treatment, if any, may be best for you.

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