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Old 01-30-2013, 10:01 PM
hazZ71 hazZ71 is offline
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Default Becoming a LEO after back surgery...

Hello, I am 18 years old and my dream has been to become a LEO. Unfortunately, I just had back surgery several months ago and I am wondering if I should kiss my dreams goodbye or not. I ended up getting a herniated dic and after I went for an epidural injection, the pain was so intense I needed surgery. The doctor also told me that I have some lumbar spinal stenosis as well. I am feeling extremely well and I'm almost done with all my physical therapy. I am going to college to get my criminal justice degree. I would appreciate it if I could get some feedback as to whether or not I even have a chance.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:38 PM
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NOT an LEO here... but a fellow Criminal Justice student.

Personally if i were you i would change my major.

I understand that LE is a dream of yours, but my main professor made sure to tell us the first day of class that if this was gonna be our major, we better be damn sure that we are going to become a LEO, or get into law school because the major is one of the least useful in any other market besides law.

So seeing as you have an injury, I would change majors and get your degree in something practical, but of course something you also enjoy doing.

Don't stop chasing your dream, but make sure you have something else to fall onto, in case your said injury turns out to be a hinderence in becoming a LEO
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:40 PM
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Back "issues" are very common in law enforcement. Just about everyone who has worn a gun belt has some degree of back injury. It's a corrosive thing where over time the added weight and constant in and out of cars Ect. take a heavy toll on one's lower back.

If you at age 18 are suffering from these type of issues you might reconsider becoming a LEO whether or not any agency will hire you. Because you will be the one to live with the pain and chance of a more permanent and debilitating injury.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:46 PM
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I had a discectomy L4-L5 in 1999 at the age of 22 after blowing out a disc weight lifting. I got hired in 2005 and had no trouble passing medical and have been fine since. It all depends on how well you heal and maintain. The key to overcoming back problems are to maintain core strength (most important) and be smart about not over stressing your back (ie. proper lifting techniques, low impact exercise etc.). Chiropractors do wonders as well.
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Old 01-31-2013, 5:28 AM
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CA POST has guidelines for the medical screening of applicants. Spinal surgery is not a disqualifier. Specific section: http://lib.post.ca.gov/Publications/Musculo.pdf

Whole manual:
http://www.post.ca.gov/medical-screening-manual.aspx
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Old 01-31-2013, 4:46 PM
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@Datdarkness: Thanks for the heads up, that's really helpful information so thank you. I have not decided whether or not I am going to change majors quite yet, but I am definitely reconsidering it. Did you end up going down the law enforcement road yourself?
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Old 01-31-2013, 4:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVT-40 View Post
If you at age 18 are suffering from these type of issues you might reconsider becoming a LEO whether or not any agency will hire you. Because you will be the one to live with the pain and chance of a more permanent and debilitating injury.
Thank you for your feedback. I am realizing that since I already have back problems, it's probably not the best career choice. I am not ready to make a decision quite yet, as I am still trying to be optimistic about it.
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Old 01-31-2013, 5:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOTARPilot View Post
I had a discectomy L4-L5 in 1999 at the age of 22 after blowing out a disc weight lifting. I got hired in 2005 and had no trouble passing medical and have been fine since. It all depends on how well you heal and maintain. The key to overcoming back problems are to maintain core strength (most important) and be smart about not over stressing your back (ie. proper lifting techniques, low impact exercise etc.). Chiropractors do wonders as well.
That's really good to know, thank you very much. I had a microdiscectomy on the same level as you. I am finishing my physical therapy in a couple weeks and I have been learning a lot of exercises that strengthen my core. They also taught me proper lifting techniques which is really important. May I ask what region in California you got a job? And are you police, sheriff, CHP?
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Old 01-31-2013, 5:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banzaijohn View Post
CA POST has guidelines for the medical screening of applicants. Spinal surgery is not a disqualifier. Specific section: http://lib.post.ca.gov/Publications/Musculo.pdf

Whole manual:
http://www.post.ca.gov/medical-screening-manual.aspx
I have read the post guidelines several times in the past and it seems like it says spinal surgery is grounds for DQ. It doesn't say you are automatically DQ'd, but it depends on the doctor that screens you. That's what I got from it. Am I mistaken?
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Old 01-31-2013, 9:26 PM
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Reality is a harsh mistress. If you represented a public entity, would you hire a canidate with a history of back problems and the possibility of of workers comp case down the road, or a 100% canidate with no issues. Not saying it isn't possible, but there is a lot of competition out there. Just my opinion.
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Old 01-31-2013, 10:22 PM
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You really need to discuss this with our doctor. LE is very hard on the back. I made it 32 years before I got hurt. It's been two and a half years since I got hurt and I still have pain almost every day and forced me to retire a year sooner than planned.

You really need to think this out on a long term basis.

Ask "Retired" about his multiple back surgeries.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazZ71 View Post
That's really good to know, thank you very much. I had a microdiscectomy on the same level as you. I am finishing my physical therapy in a couple weeks and I have been learning a lot of exercises that strengthen my core. They also taught me proper lifting techniques which is really important. May I ask what region in California you got a job? And are you police, sheriff, CHP?
Municipal PD in SoCal
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Old 02-01-2013, 3:27 AM
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I am currently not an LEO. However, I am in FBI agent applicant purgatory waiting on Phase 2 and in the hiring process for the DEA, 2 local law enforcement departments, and waiting on 1 academy start date. I have passed all the of physical tests without any back pain or injury. (Although I did stress fracture both tib/fibs in both legs for the FBI Phase 1 PT test) I had a herniated disc in my back (L4/L5) causing me sciatica at age 25, got a microdiscectomy back operation at 28. I am about to turn 31 in a month. NOTARPilot, had some great points, focusing on core strength, correct lifting, etc.

Knowing what I do now, I would have done these things differently.
1. Not waited so long to get the operation (mind you I had sciatica)
2. Not listen to any doctor that told me, 'We need to fix YOU, not your back", thus implying to deal with the pain and avoid operations at all cost.
3. My 3rd doctor who is amongst the best in neurosurgery at UCLA Medical Center suggested that physical therapy wasn't needed. However, he had no knowledge of my specific life goals, so I would recommend therapy after surgery just to keep your tendons, calfs, etc. from shrinking and tightening up as this can cause lower leg stress fractures when it comes to sprinting and running.
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Old 02-01-2013, 1:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazZ71 View Post
I have read the post guidelines several times in the past and it seems like it says spinal surgery is grounds for DQ. It doesn't say you are automatically DQ'd, but it depends on the doctor that screens you. That's what I got from it. Am I mistaken?
I had my shoulder dislocated on active duty in the Marines and I had to jump threw a lot of hoops to get a waiver.

Eventually I had to take a medical retirement early because of my back, L4-L5 and my neck.

Its your call, good luck
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Old 02-02-2013, 2:29 PM
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There are lots of LE type jobs that aren't as physically demanding as pushing a squad car. If CJ us your interest then I would say stick with it (I have a CJ degree but I will argue their value - or lack thereof - to police work).
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Old 02-04-2013, 5:11 PM
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You can go federal and avoid the patrol car and sam brown issue
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  #17  
Old 02-05-2013, 12:23 AM
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I had 4 spinal surgeries during the course of my career; 3 fusions and one hardware removal. I was due to have a 3 level cervical fusion last year and chickened out last year. I'm tired of the pain.

I am fused from T12 to S1, which means I have no lumbar discs. That fact that you have had one surgery and want to enter le, may or not result in more. My doc said, since I continue to do the type of work that caused the discs to herniate, it became a domino effect. All of the stress goes to the disc above the fusion. I know if I had been able to return, I would have had another fusion since the two discs above T12 are bulging.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. This can put undue stress on the nerves that run along the canal and cause more problems. A lifetime of pain is not worth it in my opinion. I should have switched over to the DA's office as an Investigator as I would have probably avoided all of he surgeries.

You may not end up like me, but I tell you this to give you something to think about.
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Old 02-06-2013, 2:11 AM
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Quote:
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I would change majors and get your degree in something practical
^^^
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Old 02-06-2013, 5:54 PM
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Think about a psychology degree. Believe me when I say it'd be useful as hell on the street. If the body is too beaten to work the street that degree could open more doors than a CJ degree.
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