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Back troubles?

bugchaser

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Wondering how many of you have had any back problems since you began flying for a regional? Have never had any kind of trouble till about 2 months ago, MRI showed a badly herniated disk. Pain was incredible. Tried physical therapy, epidural injections, chyropractor, etc., etc. Eventually came down to having surgery to repair. Currently recovering from that now. Can't really pinpoint what may have caused all this trouble other than bending and twisting while loading flight bag and/or luggage. Anyway, just wondering if anyone else has had similiar trouble. ALPA doc says that this is very common among line pilots.
 

miles otoole

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bugchaser said:
Wondering how many of you have had any back problems since you began flying for a regional? Have never had any kind of trouble till about 2 months ago, MRI showed a badly herniated disk. Pain was incredible. Tried physical therapy, epidural injections, chyropractor, etc., etc. Eventually came down to having surgery to repair. Currently recovering from that now. Can't really pinpoint what may have caused all this trouble other than bending and twisting while loading flight bag and/or luggage. Anyway, just wondering if anyone else has had similiar trouble. ALPA doc says that this is very common among line pilots.

Sorry to hear that. Saw a CNN special program late night last night about back surgeries in this country. It said that the U.S. does 3-4X the number of back surgeries per capita than all other 1st world countries combined. It strongly suggested that it was an epidemic in this country fostered by overzealous orthopaedic surgeons who get paid by the procedure and pushy medical device companies much like the drug manufacturers and doctors prescribing pills for everything.
One mid 40s guy had $80K in back surgeries (4 times, 4 different doctors) and each doctor did something different. The guy can no longer work and takes some expensive narcotic pain medication everyday just to deal.
What advice did the doctor give you?
 

bugchaser

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I have read those types of stories as well. Fortunately, it looks like they took care of the problem for me. So far, so good. Looks like about 6-8 wks recovery time till I can go back to work.
 

wxman

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Yeah, I recently returned to flying (CRJ FO) after getting a lumbar strain in my back. Took three weeks to recover from that. I think that it has to do with a lot of sitting, followed by hurriedly dragging luggage from one concourse to another. Having to swing around a 35 pound flight bag doesn't help the matter any either. Best advise that I'd have (especially for someone who hasn't experienced this yet) is to keep yourself in good physical condition, and be careful about posture and body mechanics.
 

mrflier

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I had surgery as well, and returned to flying two months later. This was back in the days when they really opened you up. I understand that most back surgeries are done as an outpateient thing, and you could be back to work, medical in hand in a few weeks.

When I went back to the AME to get my medical, he made me do all kinds of tests, bending, stretching etc. Just be sure you are ready before you try to re-qualify...could cause a longer delay if you are not fully recovered.

By the way, look at Dr. John Sarno's books on back pain. Some people think he's a quack, but it worked for me post back surgery.

Good luck!
 

jumppilot

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Aviation does lead itself to different types of illnesses, however working for a regional is not your reason for back pain. Many people, from varied walks of life, are just predisposed to these types of injuries. It happens. I would take a strong look at your family history and whatnot. I know many aviation professionals, many who are in bad health, yet don't have any back problems at all. (Now lung and liver problems are another story ;-))
 

bugchaser

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Actually, they opened me up too. Got a nice long zipper back there now. Doc says that about 2 months should be the recovery time. Glad to hear that you had a positive outcome. I am hoping for the best. Still too early to be completly sure.

Thanks for the information, I'll check out Dr. Sarno's books. By the way, did you do lots of physical therapy after surgery? How long till you started and how long did that last?

Thanks again!!
 

bugchaser

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jumppilot, I am not blaming this on airline flying, I am just trying to see if others have had a similiar experience. I do feel however, that some of the movements required with flight cases and such can cause anyone problems if you are not carefull about it. Maybe it's just a coincidence but as I said, I have never had any problems before and there is no real history of a problem in my family.

Thanks for you input
 

boxjockey

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I had some pretty serious lower back problems a couple years back. Went to see a chiropractor. Took x-rays, found that I had a serious misalignment in my hips, and terrible bow in my spine from right to left. Said it was probably from playing sports such as football and soccer in school. Two months of adjustments at twice a week, and everything was as good as new. I was very apprehensive at first, but I swear by it now. Now just working out regularly to maintain muscle mass, as it helps tremendously to keep everything aligned.

box
 

GravityHater

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My guess is that if we all weighed 20lbs less and kept at the exercises our back problems would all but disappear.
 

FlyBarneyJets

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bugchaser said:
Can't really pinpoint what may have caused all this trouble other than bending and twisting while loading flight bag and/or luggage.

Chances are that was exactly what caused it.

During our orientation at my current airline, the folks knowledgeable in the health-insurance area said that the most common injury to pilots while on the job is back strain. After seeing an increasing number of injuries that caused pilots to miss work, they did a field-study to determine what was causing the problem and found that the injuries occured as pilots were lifting their brain-bags from the well by their seat while they were sitting down. They developed a few suggestions that have seemingly reduced the frequency of pilots injuring their backs (or at least that's what they told us). The new techniques have to do with being in a standing position as you pull your bag from the well or place it into position, as well as the actual position of the seat while you're performing the task so that you have to do as little maneuviring of the bag as possible.

While I was flying the CRJ, I found that moving the seat all the way forward with the seat back completely upright allowed me access to the bag-well to the left of my seat while I was standing behind the center console. You might want to try that if that's the equipment you're flying.

Good luck.
 

Snakum

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My guess is that if we all weighed 20lbs less and kept at the exercises our back problems would all but disappear.
I guarantee it.

I have two bulging discs diagnosed almost fifteen years ago. I have always exercised, at least moderately, and stretched (yoga or MA), and during the times I wasn't working out regularly I would ALWAYS invariably have an attack. As long as I was keeping my weight down, keeping my trunk strong (abs and lumbar), and stretching I have always been able to keep up with my sons at any kind of activity. But I only have to get slack for about three months and I will be looking at a trip to the ER. The last one I made in an ambulance, after an episode during which I actually passed out from the pain.

Never again ... I'm back in the gym at least four times per week, watching what I eat, how I sit and lie down, and stretching three or four times per week.

Doing all that sitting you guys do (I'm only a part-timer :D) will surely soften your trunk if you're not working your abs, ext. obliques, and lower back regularly.

Minh

Never again
 

airmasn

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Some doctor also mentioned that pilots have higher than usual incidences of Hemmorhoids as well. So we all have that to look forward to...
 

DrunkIrishman

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I went to two doctors when I herniated a disk in my back and both said I was not a candidate for surgery. They both said that back surgery is only when walking is not possible, or it is very painful.

Anyhow, I fly the CRJ and use my arm to brace on the top of the seat while I sling my bag across. This limits the strain put on my back. I also exercise regularly with weight training included. This has helped to alleviate my back problems. I too would agree that exercise and proper weight is the best---prevention is the key!
 

atlcrashpad

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Back trouble

I'm a regional airline captain with back trouble. I had some pain about 5 yrs ago that was treated with a steroid injection. The disc in question was aggravated and finally ruptured during my deployment to Iraq (OIF III). I just had a discectomy (19 Aug 05) and they opened my back too. I'm slowly recovering, but recovering.

I was in such severe pain before leaving Iraq that morphine did not help the C141 ride to Landstuhl, Germany. I have some relief now, although swelling in my lower back replicates some of the sciatic pain I experienced before. I feel I’m now on the road to recovery. I cannot wait to climb back into the cockpit again.
 

mrflier

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I did have a good result and have had no problems since. It was two months and I was right back on the line. ALPA medical had some good info, and you may want to involve them as well.

If you have any other specific questions, just PM and I can tell you what has worked for me.
 

DC8 Flyer

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boxjockey said:
I had some pretty serious lower back problems a couple years back. Went to see a chiropractor. Took x-rays, found that I had a serious misalignment in my hips, and terrible bow in my spine from right to left. Said it was probably from playing sports such as football and soccer in school. Two months of adjustments at twice a week, and everything was as good as new. I was very apprehensive at first, but I swear by it now. Now just working out regularly to maintain muscle mass, as it helps tremendously to keep everything aligned.

box

I had almost the same thing. Doc said it was most likely from playing football and lifting weights. About 2 months of twice a weak therapy I was good as new. I was almost to the point of not being able to get out of bed in the morning!

My humble advice to all you "younger" guys just coming out of college, lay off any heavy weight training and get your core body strong by stretching, yoga, pilates, (I know it sounds wimpy) etc, but do whatever you can now to offset the effects of sitting for hours at a time followed by sleeping on bad mattresses.
 

jobear

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Fused C5+6+7 looks great on an X-ray, since the surgery I've met atleast 7 other pilots that have had the same or similar surgery.I have as yet to figure out a reason for this,maybe its the headsets???
 

captain caveman

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There is a fairly new procedure called spinal decompression. They attach a harness to your waist and a machine pulls you apart to help with disc problems. It allows herniated discs to heal. The proceedure worked for me and saved me from probable back surgery. My Chiropractor had the machine. This is no joke.
 
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