Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment of Spinal Instability in Los Angeles, CA

The design of the human spine is remarkable because it maximizes both strength and flexibility. These are two important qualities, since the backbone houses a good portion of your nerves and helps with your daily movements. It’s easy to see why spinal instability can contribute to an assortment of spine-related problems. Continue reading to learn more about spinal instability, what causes it, and what can be done about it.

Age-Related Spinal Instability

A common cause of spinal instability is age. When spinal bones (vertebrae) are affected by age-related wear, they become more mobile. The result is excessive mobility, which is referred to as hypermobility. While this may not seem like a big deal, the problem with a spine that’s too mobile is that it can become unstable enough to affect supporting structures and contribute to pain and other symptoms.

Note: Spinal instability can also occur because of sudden trauma or issues with spinal (facet) joints.

Signs Your Spine Is Unstable

The first sign of spinal instability is usually back pain, which can happen if excessive mobility is placing more stress on your backbone as you move throughout your day. Over time, hypermobility can contribute to symptoms such as:

  • Pain and/or stiffness
  • Range-of-motion problems
  • Muscle spasms around the spine
  • Discomfort that’s more noticeable when going from a sitting to standing position
  • Pain that’s sudden or sharp
  • General muscle weakness

Addressing & Treating Spinal Instability

The goal of treatment for spinal instability is to provide as much support to the spine as possible in a way that improves stability and decreases discomfort. For most patients with this problem, non-surgical treatments are typically recommended. Such efforts often involve:

• Daily strength training
• Targeted exercises that focus on specific areas of the spine
• A personalized physical therapy program
• Exercises that evenly target spine-supporting core muscle groups 

Pain-Relieving Injections

If you aren’t getting sufficient relief from the initial treatment efforts mentioned above, you may be advised to try injections of corticosteroid (anti-inflammatory) medication. Treatments of this nature reduce swelling in the affected area in a way that provides enough relief so you can actively participate in your physical therapy plan without distracting pain.

Surgery to Improve Stability

If you’re still experiencing pain due to instability even after trying injections and other techniques, you may be advised to consider a surgical procedure such as extreme lateral interbody fusion. Beverly Hills patients might be comforted by the knowledge that spinal fusion surgery is the most common procedure performed to restore stability to the affected part of the spine. It’s done by joining or “fusing” two or more vertebrae together to prevent movement in certain areas. Many fusion procedures performed today are done with minimally invasive surgical techniques that reduce recovery times and patient risks.

Because age is a common contributing factor to spinal instability, it isn’t always something you can entirely prevent. That being said, it’s possible to take steps to keep your spine and its supporting parts as healthy as possible to maintain optimal stability. Your doctor or Beverly Hills spine surgeon might recommend getting regular exercise, watching your weight, being aware of your posture throughout your day, and wearing proper protective gear when playing sports.

Get in touch with The Spine Institute if you suspect you’re having back issues due to spinal instability or you have any kind of lingering or severe back or neck pain. Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons help patients find effective relief for their chronic back and neck pain. Call 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.