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Papers of the Week

2020 Dec 01

Aerosp Med Hum Perform



Low Back Pain in Commercial Airline Pilots.


Albermann M, Lehmann M, Eiche C, Schmidt J, Prottengeier J
Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2020 Dec 01; 91(12):940-947.
PMID: 33243337.


In their working life, airline pilots are exposed to particular risk factors that promote nonspecific low back pain (LBP). Because of the varying incidence internationally, we evaluated the point prevalences of acute, subacute, and chronic nonspecific LBP, as well as the current prevalences in German airline pilots. Furthermore, we compared the prevalence to the general German population and to European counterparts. An anonymous online survey of 698 participating German airline pilots was evaluated. The impairment between groups was analyzed. Prevalences from our data were compared to existing data. The following point prevalences were found: 8.2% acute, 2.4% subacute, 82.7% chronic LBP; 74.1% of all individuals were suffering from current LBP when answered the questionnaire. A total time spent flying greater than 600 h within the last 12 mo was significantly related to acute nonspecific LBP. Individuals with any type of LBP were significantly impaired compared to those unaffected. It was found that German airline pilots suffer more often from current LBP than the general population and have a higher point prevalence of total LBP than their European counterparts. The evaluation showed a surprisingly high, previously unidentified, prevalence of nonspecific LBP in German airline pilots. Why German airline pilots suffer more often from LBP remains uncertain. The number of flying hours appears to have a negative effect on developing acute low back pain, but causation cannot be concluded. Other risk factors could not be confirmed.