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As a board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon, Dr. Daniel Choi is trained in diagnosing and treating a wide range of spine conditions, including complex spine disorders that involve a variety of issues. Three of the complex issues we see most frequently at our Long Island spine medicine practice are spinal instability, infections and tumors.


Abnormal movement between two vertebrae is known as spinal instability. Spondylolisthesis is when a vertebrae slips forward over the vertebrae below it. The most common cause of spinal instability, or spondylolisthesis, is a degenerative condition like osteoarthritis.

Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Instability

  • Severe back pain
  • Back spasms
  • Locking up of the spine
  • Sciatica
  • Difficulty walking

Spinal Instability Treatment

As with most spinal conditions, Dr. Choi takes a conservative approach and generally recommends non-surgical treatments first. He may suggest a combination of medication to alleviate pain, physical therapy to strengthen the spine, and activity modifications to avoid exacerbating the issue. Some patients with spinal instability, or spondylolisthesis, also respond well to epidural steroid injections.

If conservative treatment fails and you’re still experiencing symptoms, then surgery might be the best way to get lasting relief. Dr. Choi will discuss the recommended procedure with you and go over the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.

Back Pain

Spinal infections, though extremely rare, can develop in the vertebral column (spinal bones), vertebral discs and/or the spinal canal, and the surrounding bones and soft tissue. A spinal infection is most often caused by bacteria, however, fungal infections can occur, too.

Signs and Symptoms of a Spinal Infection

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

Spinal Infection Treatment

Dr. Choi is able to treat most spinal infections with antibiotics, rest and a spinal brace. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to clear the infection and stop complications from arising.

Pain Leg

The majority of spinal cord tumors are secondary masses, or metastatic masses, meaning the cancer came from somewhere else in the body. Sometimes, a spinal tumor develops within the spine, which is known as a primary mass. A primary mass is usually benign.

Signs and Symptoms of Spinal Tumors

  • Weakness in an arm, leg and/or hip
  • Spinal deformity
  • Neck or back pain that gets worse while sleeping
  • Loss of bowel/bladder control
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty walking

Spinal Tumor Treatment

When a spinal tumor causes spinal instability or compresses the nerves leading to trouble walking, weakness, or bowel and bladder issues, surgery is usually needed to remove the tumor. To treat some spine tumors, surgery will have to be followed by chemotherapy or radiation. Dr. Choi will discuss your diagnosis with you and go over your options, ensuring you feel comfortable and fully informed about the proposed course of treatment.

Less Pain, More Living

Find out how we can help you achieve freedom from pain. To get started, schedule a consultation with our Long Island spine surgeon today!

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