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Steadicam after back operations?

back injury slipped disc surgery operation

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#1 James Layton

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 11:19 AM

I've slipped a disc quite badly and I'm wondering if anybody out there has had disc surgery in the past and then gone on to operate normally afterwards. Obviously quite worrying with the nature of the job…
 


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#2 Marc R. Berger

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 06:59 AM

Hi James, sorry to hear that. I know how painful it can be. I had three times a slipped disc. The last time (2008) my left leg was gone completely . I had a urgent surgery, got my force and my feeling in the leg within 1/2 year back. A lot of rehab. was necessary. Since then I had no problems anymore. Some ache sometimes, but that´s it. I have the strong feeling working with the steadicam is doing good for my back now. Yes, you can laugh about this, but I´m working with a back mounted vest from actionproducts which puts the weight more on the hips, and the belly surrounding fixture of the vest gives my back a comfortable stability.

I would strongly recommend to get good examinations before going trough surgery. The first two very bad slipped disc I´ve had were better treated without surgery. But its long, takes sometimes one year or more.

I hope you get well soon,

Marc


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#3 James Davis

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 07:03 AM

Hey James, really sorry to hear that mate, hope you heal properly dude.
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#4 Marc R. Berger

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 08:17 AM

...one more thing I found out over 10 years, everybody's back is as unique like a fingerprint. This said, I think everything is possible regarding the healing process. First thing to check-if you didn´t do already- ask your doctor for a MRT. A simple radiography doesn´t show enough.

Back to your entry question (and because I saw on your website the heavy gear your working with): I never got back to work normally afterwards. Not with photography, neither with operating or  (started after the surgery) steadicam work. But I´m quite well and can do more then all the doctors mentioned. And as I said, "steadicamming" became even a part of my daily back training. But my max. weight I´m working with is around 15-18 kg.

IMHO to get well without surgery is better. Look for as much information as possible!!! There are for sure special clinics in uk. 

Cheers,

Marc


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#5 James Layton

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 08:35 AM

...one more thing I found out over 10 years, everybody's back is as unique like a fingerprint. This said, I think everything is possible regarding the healing process. First thing to check-if you didn´t do already- ask your doctor for a MRT. A simple radiography doesn´t show enough.

Back to your entry question (and because I saw on your website the heavy gear your working with): I never got back to work normally afterwards. Not with photography, neither with operating or  (started after the surgery) steadicam work. But I´m quite well and can do more then all the doctors mentioned. And as I said, "steadicamming" became even a part of my daily back training. But my max. weight I´m working with is around 15-18 kg.

IMHO to get well without surgery is better. Look for as much information as possible!!! There are for sure special clinics in uk. 

Cheers,

Marc

Thanks for the reply, Marc. That's all good information and I appreciate it. I have had the MRI and it is as a result of this that the surgery is recommended. I am also having physio but the good news is that the surgeon is one of the best in the UK on this topic, so I'm very lucky. The physio, rheumatologist and surgeon are all in communication with each other.

 

It's good to hear that others are able to carry on. I've heard some positive outcomes and spoken to others who were up and running very quickly so fingers crossed it should be ok!

 

Thanks again.

 

James


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#6 James Layton

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 08:36 AM

Hey James, really sorry to hear that mate, hope you heal properly dude.

Cheers James. Got your text, too. Much appreciated. All will be well!


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#7 Marc R. Berger

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 09:06 AM

Great to hear, James!

I also had the best surgeon. Was in Berlin. I can´t say how  thankful I am to my doctor for his art. He gave me my life back.

I hope you will have a similar great experience,

all the best,

get well soon and back to the great work your doing!

Marc


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#8 Victor Lazaro

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 09:22 AM

Maybe Peter Abraham could chime in also. I remember him telling me that he injured his back (no sure if it was a disk or something else), he is back to operating thanks to the ExoVest this may be another route to explore. Good luck for your surgery and keep us posted. I know how painful it is when your body gets injured and how frustrating it is wiht our physical jobs. (I recently pinched a nerve in my neck and lost sensation in my right arm for a bit, it's getting better now)


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#9 James Layton

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Posted 02 May 2014 - 09:28 AM

Maybe Peter Abraham could chime in also. I remember him telling me that he injured his back (no sure if it was a disk or something else), he is back to operating thanks to the ExoVest this may be another route to explore. Good luck for your surgery and keep us posted. I know how painful it is when your body gets injured and how frustrating it is wiht our physical jobs. (I recently pinched a nerve in my neck and lost sensation in my right arm for a bit, it's getting better now)

Hi Victor,

 

Thanks, all that kind of info is great. I did the damage last year on a front mounted vest and after the recovery I went back mounted with a Klassen which has been amazing. Can't rate the Klassen Flex highly enough to avoid the leg pinch. Unfortunately the damage had already been done so this was a ticking time bomb and not steadicam related but ironically it was in an attempt to get fitter... It's the twisting I have to avoid, as that's the most common disc aggravator, apparently. Neck pinching is horrible and the physio treating me has that injury, too. Sounds really nasty. Basically, the straighter we can be whilst operating under load, the better, and that applies to tilting heads etc to see monitors better. I'm sure there is scope for some new designs in this area. The WK vest helps a lot on that front for me.

 

I will keep you all posted and thanks to all for the support. It's a great help!


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#10 thomas-english

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 03:05 AM

Aww mate! Yeah there are lots and lots of people in the world that have had slipped discs and going on to compete in Power Lifting or Olympic lifting. It is not over unless you want it to be. A friend of mine broke his Spine properly and a year later is operating handheld all day every day. 

 

Remember a lot of these fitness programs are pretty much nonesense and could well aggravate an injury just as they caused it. Do your recovery and rehabilitation as perscribed then and with your doctors permission and a proper trainer checking technique get your deadlift up to bodyweight and squat to 80% bodyweight and you will be fine to operate Steadicam again. Then slowly try to get those figures up to 150% and 100% respectively (sets of 5). This will build the volume of muscle in your posterior chain protecting your spine. 

 

I've lots of friends that do heavylifting jobs in the Arts who have had slipped disks and made 100% recoveries. Despite common thought Steadicam or AR isn't THAT intense on your spine and your spine is mostly in a neutral position under load. 


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#11 James Davis

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 04:56 PM

Excellent advice Thomas.
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#12 Geoff Owen

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 10:57 PM

Hi James,

I’m also sorry to hear of your back problems, getting the best surgeon you can find is definitely the light at the end of your present tunnel.

 

I suffered a disc bulge (slipped disc) in 2004, this bulging disc pushed straight into the spinal cord and I had about 5 seconds to give the rig to the grip before my legs collapsed.

 

So I was quickly in to see the surgeon (I had seen him before). A few days later I was into surgery and received a decompression (cutting away some bone of the vertebrae to make room for the bulging disc and the spinal cord) and then a spinal fusion of L3 - L4 (2 titanium rods are fixed to the vertebrae) and then a bone graft (they cut some bone from your hip, grind it up and make a paste/glue and cover over the titanium rods and screws).

 

The recovery, excruciating is to put it mildly, you can’t press the morphine button enough. However with modern medical practice you are put on your feet the next day and encouraged to walk. The first day you don’t get very far as you can imagine, maybe 10 metres. Trust me this is no walk in the park, just getting out of bed is enough to make you cry, walking is just a bit worse than that. But each day you get a bit further, by the end of the week I walked out of the hospital and down the street to the shop. I won’t say what I bought, very bad.

 

Anyway, it took a while to have a pee without a tube, number 2’s is a completely different matter because you can’t actually sit, I think it was 10 days, not very comfortable but well worth it in the end. It does take a while before you can sit in a normal position.

 

So, things do go back to normal and after a couple of months pains are fairly bearable. After six months you can start to do some strengthening exercises for your back. Leading up to this point walking as much as you can is best, only after the scare has healed, swimming is great, but don’t go into the pool until the scares are completely healed because you could get an infection.

 

Back to six months down the track and exercise, as I had become completely pennilessly broke by this time and couldn’t afford to go to a gym so I became a brickies labourer so I got paid to exercise. If anything is going to get you strong this activity will, but be extreme careful, but if you can simply go to a gym that would be best. I would also suggest surfing, particularly paddling, catching a wave is unimportant. As usual Yoga is a great way to increase your flexability and strength.

 

I eventually got back into Steadicam work and I’m still doing it, just about to buy a new rig, I was 41 years old when I had the surgery and I’m 51 in a couple of months time and hope to get another decade out of my back with regard to Steadicam. I don’t do live TV style work, this is way too much for me and always has, I take my hat off to those super fit guys. I only do drama or commercial work and I wear the rig as little as possible, at the end of the take I give it to the grip or have the docking stand close by.

 

I remember that I often had more discomfort from the area where the surgeon cut out the bone for the bone graft. I still get twinges of pain and my lower back definitely doesn’t have the stamina that it used to, but in all I'm pretty pain free now. Heavy Steadicam days have the usual effect of soreness that we all experience.

 

In conclusion, if you can avoid surgery, do it, but if you can’t, find the absolutely best surgeon money can buy. Don’t be afraid to research them, speak to other surgeons on who they recommend. The surgeon who worked on me is world respected and an absolute leader in his field, his name is Dr. Paul Licina, he lives in Brisbane, Australia. I'm sure if you contacted him and asked his recomendation for someone in the UK to would, if he doesn't send me a message and I will try for you. Surgery methods are getting better every year and a successful recovery is more than likely, especially with a top surgeon.

 

I hope I haven’t scared you with my story, but I just wanted to give you a reason to search for a non-surgical solution. If you do have surgery then at least you will know what to expect, steadicam ops are tuff as nails and you’ll get through it in time and back into the rig.

 

I’m happy to try to answer any questions you might have, you can email me direct, geoffowen1@bigpond.com

Good Luck

Regards

Geoff Owen


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#13 Marcio Bodnariuc

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 08:35 AM

Good luck! I feel your pain.

I recently overworked by back and I am the one to blame. Although I look athletic I am out of shape when comes to operating. My rig sits around my house until I get the next gig. However, when it happens it is on a short notice and there is no time to prep your body, I should kept in shape all the time to prevent pain or injuries!

 

After doing a 14-18 minutes long shot for 5 hours on uneven ground doing the most awkward moves  I couldn't walk the next day. However, I am glad to know that I don't have the symptoms of a slipped disc. I hope that is just an overworked back muscle that is screaming at me. It's been a week now and I still feel a little of back pain but getting better every day. But if I would get a call to work now I would pass as i don't want to make things worse.

 

I hope that everything goes well with you and back to operating soon.

 

If anybody has suggestions for stretching and back strengthening exercise please pass it on I would love to try it out.

 

All the best,


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#14 Andrew Rowlands

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Posted 24 June 2014 - 11:22 AM

Hi James ,
Had a perforated disk or bulging disk as some Doctors say, that was in 1999.
Had three weeks of intense physio and was able to heal the problem .
I'm still going today but I'm weary of lifting and exerting any pressure on my lower back that is not in keeping with what we do,ie lifting heavy weights above my shoulder or too far out front of my body, over reaching to pick up or drop off heavy objects.
Pilates (stretching with resistance ) got me back up and healthy again.
I'm not a big fan of invasive surgery unless as a last resort.
Anyhow just wanted to share my story, i know it's it might not apply to your situation but I wish you all the best for a speedy recovery.
Cheers as always
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#15 Alessandro Ugo

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Posted 03 July 2014 - 07:07 AM

Tough! 

 

My knee had several operations so far but nothing will ever make it better...so the only thing I can do is to keep the muscle well in shape and suffer the pain!!


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