1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Exclamation Back issues. Oh the fun

    I am 26 years old and am an old gymnast. I am a part time gymnastic coach. I hurt my back in gymnastics a while ago and had a few MRIs done. I have a degenerative disk. One disk is darker then the rest. I cant lift objects over 25 pounds for too long. I can and probably will have back surgery to replace the disk with a artificial disk. Even tho I really dont want it done. Now im a optimistic person so is there any chance in hell that I can do some kind of firefighter job or rescue job? With the surgery I will be like new again as in I can lift heavy stuff again but Im thinking the physical I may not pass.

    I know things are bad. I wish I made different choices when I was younger but you only get one back bone. Im I out for the count? Should I even try, is what I am getting at. My passion in life is helping people in need. I was going to be a coast guard rescue swimmer but those dreams went down the drain with my back. I asked on some coast guard boards about my problem and they said im grounded.
    Is it the same for firefighting? If you get surgery your out on the side lines?
    I need to help people in my life as a carrier but my options are not the best now. And no I do not want to be a doctor or a nurse. I need the danger side to it too.

    So give it to me guys.

    And if a man was already a firefighter and needed back surgery so he could lift heavy loads again, would he be put to a desk job the rest of his carrier or because he was already a firefighter he could get back into the action again?

    Thanks for any replies.


    sincerely,
    Christopher H.

  2. #2
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    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    A firefighter wearing the complete PPE (personal protective equipment) ensemble and wearing an air pack and carrying forcible entry tools is carying an extra 50+ pounds right off the bat.

    You have to be able to lift ladders from 10 feet to 24 feet by yourself.

    You have to drag hoselines and nozzles through burning buildings.

    You have to be able to drag fire victims down hallways, stairs or over ladders.

    Surgery may or may not make you qualified to become a firefighter. For some FD's it is a case by case basis. Others, it's a disqualification right off the bat.

    By the way.. most firefighters will end up with some form of degenerative disc disease. It is the nature of the job doing the aforementioned tasks over one's career (for me 28 years and counting) . the effects can be lessened by staying in shape, watching one's weight, proper warm up and strecthing during the day, etc.

    I took a fall on a wet floor a few years ago while at a malicious false alarm. I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease after a series of x-rays and an MRI.

    By doing the above, I have it under control and still keep up with the "kids" at the firehouse and at the State fire academy, where I work part time.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
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    Speaking as a full-time physical therapist:

    Degenerative disk disease is not a guaranteed killer for firefighting, or much else for that matter. However, you do need to work harder at staying in shape and pay more attention to what you do to prevent/minimize flare-ups. Best advice would be to have your physician refer you to an outpatient physical therapy clinic and DO what they tell you to do. Also, explain to them the firefighting aspect so they can tailor treatments. And, a good core stabilization program (such as Pilates) will help tremendously.

    As far as back surgery goes . . . people are hardly ever "like new" and are more susceptible to back injuries in the future.

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