Spinal Instability

Spinal instability, also known as lumbar instability, describes a greater-than-normal range of motion between two vertebrae, resulting from a disc degenerating to the point that it becomes unable to support the weight of the body through that portion of the spine. It can increase the risk of spinal arthritis and the development of bone spurs. Any spinal injury is serious, so it’s important to know what can cause spinal instability and how Hampton Roads Orthopaedics Spine & Sports Medicine can treat the condition.¬†


  • External trauma or fracture of the spine
  • Metastatic tumors in the spine
  • Congenital defects in the spinal cord
  • Scoliosis
  • Poor lifting techniques


  • Severe pain in the back when lifting objects, bending and straightening the spine
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness in the arms and lower extremities
  • Pain radiating down the legs and buttocks, especially if it affects one side of the body more than the other


  • Patient’s medical history and lifestyle
  • MRI and CT scans
  • X-ray images, which can study changes in the bone structure
  • A spinal probe, which can re-create conditions that are likely to cause pain


  • Physical therapy can help treat mild cases of spinal instability by strengthening the muscles in the spine
  • Prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Microdiscectomy — a surgical procedure that removes the intervertebral disc impinging on the spinal nerve
  • Spinal fusion — fusing two or more vertebrae to prevent movement between them and improve the stability of the spine

HROSM specializes in spinal care and will work with you from diagnosis to treatment. If you think you may be experiencing spinal instability, contact us at (757) 873-1554 for an appointment to learn more about the condition.  One of our orthopaedic spine specialists will create a specific treatment plan tailored to your unique situation. We look forward to helping you get back to normal life!