Complex spine disorders involve a range of problems – including infections, tumors, and spine instability. On this page, we have highlighted the most common ailments that affect our patients.


Spinal infections are extremely rare. They can develop in the vertebral bones, vertebral discs, and/or in the areas between the spinal cord and the surrounding bones.

Signs + Symptoms

  • Back pain that begins slowly and gradually intensifies
  • Weakness, tingling or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache

Our treatment approach

For most patients, we can treat the infection with antibiotics, bracing, and rest. However, severe cases may require surgery to successfully clear the infection and prevent complications.


Spinal instability involves the abnormal movement between two vertebrae. This condition often develops due to disc degeneration.

Signs + Symptoms

  • Significant back pain
  • Back spasms
  • Decreased walking tolerance
  • Locking up of the back
  • Sciatica

Conservative and progressive

Our approach to treating spinal instability typically begins with conservative measures – a blend of physical therapy to strengthen your muscles, pain medication to relieve discomfort and activity modifications. We will also refer you to one of our pain management specialists to possibly receive an epidural steroid injection. If these measures are ineffective and your symptoms persist, surgery may be necessary to completely resolve the problem.

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Most spinal cord tumors are secondary masses, which means the cancer originated elsewhere in the body. When the tumor in the spine is a primary mass, it is usually benign.

Our treatment approach

Surgery is typically required to treat a spine tumor if it is causing instability of the spine or compression on nerves that is causing weakness, difficulty walking, or bowel and bladder problems. With some spine tumors, the surgery will need to be followed by radiation or chemotherapy.

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