Killer Jobs: 10 Painful Professions

Racki has been a stuntman for 26 years. He has worked on more than 300 feature films, including "The Day After Tomorrow," "The Hulk" and the 1988 Tom Cruise movie "Cocktail." Racki has dozens of stories to tell of flips, flights and falls he has mastered to capture the perfect Hollywood action scene.

Joseph Guettler, orthopedic surgeon at Beaumont Hospitals, said that with time stuntmen such as Racki become much more desensitized to pain than people who rarely submit themselves to hazardous situations.

"Their profession makes them so prone to breaking an arm or leg that they minimize the pain," Guettler said. "If you're used to getting banged up, your tolerance to pain will be higher."

"The weakest link for a stuntman is our neck and head," Racki said. "You break an arm, you'll be fine. But head injuries can end your career quite fast."

Although Racki can recount numerous injuries related to stunts that have gone wrong, he said he does not suffer from long-lasting muscle pain.

Racki built a gym in his house so he can continue increasing his strength and flexibility. "Most stuntmen are flexible so that's what keeps us going," he said. "We plan with our bodies before we go on set, and we rehearse our stunt before we roll."

Although Guettler recommends warming up, stretching and practicing the body movements required for the stunt, Guettler said injuries are unavoidable for stuntmen no matter how much they train.

"I've watched my friends die in this business because stunts do go bad," Racki said. "But that's the risk we take."

Laying the Foundation for Long-Term Pain

Dan O'Neal, 56, was managing a construction project when a loose cabinet board fell and hit him on the forehead. O'Neal lost consciousness and twisted his back before his body slammed on the deck of the scaffolding.

O'Neal returned to work later that week, even though every movement he made sent shooting pains down his leg. Less than six months later, while lifting a table saw, O'Neal felt a pop in his back.

"I was hurting so bad and I couldn't take it anymore," O'Neal said.

Paris said the trade of a construction worker requires constant lifting and maneuvering, and construction workers can expect injury on any part of their bodies.

"It's more likely than not that at some point your body is going to let you know it's taking its toll," Paris said.

After his first injury, O'Neal was afraid to seek treatment for his pain. His manager warned him that he would be terminated if he filed for workers' compensation.

"It is very common that men and women in construction will endure the pain because they don't want their supervisors to think they cannot handle the physical demands of the job," said O'Neal.

Although Paris, a chiropractor, advised getting early evaluation by a specialist to avoid long-term pain, he said he treats many workers who hesitate telling him their pain is work-related.

"Most employers are not encouraged to report as they see workers' compensation as just another cost driver," Paris said. "Many employees actually fear for their jobs or feel they will not get promoted once they've reported an injury."

Despite the injuries that sealed the end of his construction career, O'Neal said working many years under daily pressure to finish projects fast also contributed to his pain.

"It doesn't matter how many precautions one takes," O'Neal said. "You're using every part of your body to build and transport and fix things."

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