Spine Archive: Instability

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Advantages of Surgery in Spinal Instability

Surgical intervention may be necessary to alleviate stress within the spine. Contact Dr. Anthony Leone to learn more.

Once a diagnosis has been made, the doctor might determine the proper course of action in disc degeneration involves surgical intervention. When performed, the doctor will have the ability to free the constricted nerve root and also remove bone spurs and other factors that may be causing pain and discomfort in the back and surrounding areas.

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Pain in Spinal Instability

You might wonder why you are in pain as a result of disc degeneration. Learn more below and elsewhere in Dr. Leone’s Knowledge Center.

Spinal instability resulting from disc degeneration often leaves the patient in a painful state. This is because of movement involving the vertebrae (sliding laterally or rotating) is irritating the nerve located in the target area. When a nerve loses the ability to openly move, irritation occurs and spreads throughout the back and may even be felt in the legs.

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Causes of Spinal Instability

Disc degeneration occurs as we age and our bodies mature. Search the Knowledge Center to learn more about degeneration and its effects on our health.

In disc degeneration, a disc has begun to lose tension, creating bulging as movements happen along the vertebrae. This odd movement, also know as “spinal instability” causes joints to move in abnormal paths. From this abnormal path, overgrowth of the joints and the creation of bone spurs around the joints can occur.

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Hemiataxia

The medical term for the loss of bodily movement control including balance is known as ataxia. This loss of control can be the result of multiple complications. Most often, it is associated with the aftermath of a stroke or cerebellar injury (base of the brain in charge of balance and movement). Specifically, hemiataxia refers to the loss of bodily movement that affects only one side of the body.

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Degenerative Segmental Instability

The indications for spinal fusion in the treatment of disk disease are controversial, primarily because of the difficulty in defining degenerative instability. Many theories attempt to correlate both radiographic and biomechanical criteria with instability ; however, the typical consistent symptoms of abnormal motion segment behavior have yet to be clearly defined. A key premise is that selective fusion of an unstable motion segment must have a high probability of relieving symptoms if a diagnosis can be made with certainty. To meet this definition, many classifications have been proposed, including biomechanical, clinical, and radiographic criteria. None have withstood the test of time or clinical experience.¹

¹Garfin MD, Steven. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update : Spine. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1997.

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Iatrogenic Instability

An easier problem to deal with than the primary diagnosis of segmental degenerative instability is the intraoperative determination that decompression has produced an unstable motion segment. Recent biomechanical analyses or the removal of one entire facet will produce significant loss of mechanical integrity of the spine. This research has tended to confirm the clinical experience of many.¹

¹Garfin MD, Steven. Orthopaedic Knowledge Update : Spine. Rosemont: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1997.

For more on Instability, please visit our patient resource page |