Introduction: Low back pain (LBP) in the aviator can be a significant safety risk because of distraction during flight. Flight Surgeons are tasked with seeking out appropriate medical care that reduces pilot risk while providing squadron-specific mission support.
Case: An F-5 pilot presented with chronic LBP seeking nonpharmacological and noninvasive therapy. After 3 days of manual treatment that corrected sacral, pelvic, and lumbar dysfunction, this pilot reported greater than 80% reduction in overall pain and was able to return to flight.
Discussion: Although underreported, a radiographic study and multiple case reports, identify LBP as a significant problem among tactical air (tac air) pilots. As such, LBP can become an in-flight distraction increasing the risk of a mishap. Benefits of osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT) as an adjunct to treatment of LBP in civilian population were recently demonstrated. This case identified a tac air pilot with chronic LBP that responded to three OMT sessions focused at the sacrum, lumbar, and pelvis.
Conclusion: The use of manual therapy in the form of OMT significantly reduced this pilot's pain in three visits and maintained flight status per aeromedical waiver guidelines.
Reprint & Copyright © 2015 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.