Recent work on degenerative lumbar curves has focused on stable deformities with entrapment syndrome secondary to spondylotic compression. A review of our local experience with degenerative lumbar curves shows that approximately half of the 14 cases have had a less typical radiographic presentation of short reciprocating lumbar curves thought to be on the basis of asymmetric intervertebral osteochondrosis. In these latter cases, marked spondylotic ridging and intervertebral buttressing were absent; therefore, major decompressive surgery on the residual posterior elements may increase instability and hasten further collapse. Although most patients have had good relief of radicular leg complaints with decompressive procedures, several patients had persistent low-back pain that appeared to have a mechanical basis. In those instances of potentially increased postoperative instability or persistent mechanical back complaints, consideration should be given to augmenting decompressive procedures with Harrington instrumentation and fusion for these painful collapsing lumbar spines.