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Degenerative Disc Disease
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Degenerative Disc Disease

My 54-year-old husband is having a terrible time with his spine.  His entire C-spine is a mess and he's had a dowager's hump since his late 30's.  The orthopod thinks he's not quite a surgical candidate yet.  He also has a bulge in his lumbar area that has caused severe drop-foot, but oddly causes no lower back pain.

My husband has had one round of c-spine  injections that helped the burning pain but his biggest complaint is pain from muscle spasms.  Soma does nothing for them.  He sees a massage therapist but of course the relief is temporary.  He is a black belt martial artist (no more sparring ever again) so he does get a lot of stretching and some strengthening work several times a week.  He says that helps the muscle spasms the most.

I'm a c-spine surgical veteran but it was so long ago I can't remember the specific exercises to target the neck and upper back.  I did manage to get him to stop carrying his computer and gym bag on his shoulder and keep an eye out on his posture so he maintains a neutral spine. He's a desk jockey at work and that's what really gets the spasms going.  Can you recommend anything else he can do to deal with the muscle spasms and strengthen his muscles?  He has a TNS unit on order and we can't afford regular physical therapy.  I've been pushing him to try at least a couple sessions to get him started but, well... he's a man.  Thanks!
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We can attack this sevral ways.  First, we to get him to understand if his work station is working well with good ergonomic form such as computer screen height, keyboard height and chair height.  Simple mechanical deviations at work can decrease muscualr spasm due to poor posture.  His feet should be flat on the floor with his knees at 90 degrees and elbows at 90 degrees.  Screen should be eye level.  He should not be looking down or sideways at his work station.  Second, he needs to get a full body flexability program 2 times daily stretching all the large muscle groups.  Hydration is key to limiting spasms.  Based on costs I would start here and let me know how we do.  Best in Health, JAG
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Thank you so much!  I've been griping him about workstation ergonomics and maintaining a neutral spine, but until I saw it in person and made some corrections, he didn't really see the problem.  Since he uses the 'hunt and peck' method of typing, his face was always pointed down at the keyboard.  I got him a laptop riser (didn't know such a thing existed until I did some searching) and now his posture is much improved, as are the spasms.  Also made some chair adjustments after checking elbow and knee angles.

He didn't realize he needed to stretch so many muscle groups and also more than once a day.  Kicking that up to two or three times daily has helped a great deal as a preventive measure.

The next step was getting him off the caffeinated tea during the day and switched over to water.  That's a rough one, but going in the right direction.

Just got a TNS unit and surprise of surprises - it's working wonders!  I've been using my elbow to compress the worst of the knots in his upper back and they usually won't release - or not completely.  The TNS unit is doing a magnificent job and he won't leave home without it.

Many thanks for your very helpful ideas!
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