Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

What Causes Spinal Instability and What We Can Do About It?

What Causes Spinal Instability and What We Can Do About It?

As everyone is well-aware, the spinal column is one of the most important parts of the body to provide stability, functionality, and movement for an individual. Suppose there is an issue such as a spine injury, spine metastatic tumors, degenerative disc disease, or anything else that may cause structural changes, abnormal movement, or abnormal load movement in the spine. In that case, it may result in severe spinal instability.

When spinal instability occurs, the individual will not be able to function normally or complete regular daily activities. Severe pain, muscle spasms, and other symptoms related to spinal instability can be devastating for the patient. It will require exceptional treatment from spine experts such as ours at New York Spine Specialist.

Our New York Spine Specialist team is here to help patients deal with the symptoms associated with spinal instability and develop a strong treatment plan custom-designed for their specific situation. Even mild spinal instability can have catastrophic effects on the patient, so it is integral that the best treatments available are used to return spinal stability.

What Is Instability of the Spinal Cord?

When there is damage or external trauma to one of the three subsystems in the spinal column, spinal instability may develop. You may sustain an injury to the passive spinal subsystem (vertebral body, spinal ligaments, intervertebral disc, facet joints responsible for support and stabilization), the active subsystem (muscles and tendons needed for movement), or the neural control subsystem (nerves, nerve roots, and central nervous system that controls spinal movement patterns within the spine).

Causes of Lumbar Spine Instability

Many different things could cause or have some contribution to spinal instability. These include:

  • Tumors in the spinal bones
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Congenital defects
  • Degenerative disc disease or age-related degeneration in the facet joints
  • Spinal deformity (scoliosis)
  • Back fractures

Without a medical examination performed by an expert in the musculoskeletal system, you may not know if these are the causes of your spinal instability or if there is something else that is to blame.

There are some important symptoms and conditions to be on the lookout for when it comes to spinal instability. In addition to displacement and abnormal movement in the spinal structures, you may also experience:

  • Low back pain
  • Stiffness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Weakness in the back during spinal movements
  • Increased pain with added pressure on the spine through excessive motion (bending, twisting, lifting)
  • Muscle irritation
  • Nerve compression (nerve roots or spinal cord)
  • Sciatica for lumbar spine nerve compression

You must seek out professional medical advice if you are experiencing these symptoms, as they may be signs of a larger condition that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Doctors may be able to provide you pain relief with minimally invasive procedures to correct an unstable spine if it is caught soon enough.

Physical Therapy and Other Treatment Methods

The types of treatments that our spinal experts may recommend at New York Spine Specialist will depend on the severity of your condition. If you are in severe pain with associated muscle irritation and other symptoms, the conservative treatments may not be as effective for you as they would be for others.

At New York Spine Specialist, we will first evaluate your condition and determine its severity. Our doctors will assess your cervical, thoracic, or lumbar instability and determine if the deep spinal muscles are also affected. After a thorough examination and discussion of your medical history, we can develop a customized treatment plan that caters to your spine’s specific needs. Spinal instability is not a one-size-fits-all situation.

Some of the treatments that we may recommend following our examination of your spine include:

  • Modifying Your Daily Activities and Routines: Our doctors will walk you through your day and provide you with suggested modifications for activities that cause you pain or trigger muscle spasms.
  • Taking Over-The-Counter Pain Medications: Over-the-counter pain killers like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may be useful in mild or moderate pain cases. Significant pain may require stronger medications that a doctor will prescribe.
  • Engaging in Physical Therapy and Strengthening Exercises: Through physical therapy, you can work on strengthening your back, abdominal core, and leg muscles to provide increased support and stability. These will be low-impact exercises.
  • Administering Corticosteroid Injections: Injecting corticosteroids directly into the spine can work to reduce inflammation and irritation. Although the effects are temporary, they will provide relief for several months.


If none of the above options seems to provide you with pain relief, we may need to move on to less conservative and more invasive treatments such as surgical procedures. This is especially true when the compression of the nerves is involved.

We may recommend the removal of the degenerated disc to be replaced by an artificial one, or you may be a candidate for spinal fusion following the disc removal. The fusion will limit movement in the vertebral bodies and increase spinal stability.

Contact Us for Treatment of Conditions Like Spinal Instability

If you are dealing with spinal instability, you may need expert medical advice and care from our New York Spine Specialist doctors. We are trained to diagnose and treat all spinal conditions, including lumbar instability, disc herniation, spinal arthritis, spinal stenosis, pinched nerves, degenerative disc diseases, etc.

Instability in the spinal column can greatly reduce your quality and enjoyment of life, so it is integral that you schedule an appointment with our spine team at New York Spine Specialist today. We are dedicated to helping you get back to your normal life, living as pain-free as possible. Our team provides world-class service and treats you like part of our own family. Call today to schedule an appointment!