Back symptoms in aviators flying different aircraft

Alon Grossman*, Idan Nakdimon, Leah Chapnik, Yuval Levy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Introduction: Back pain is a common complaint among military aviators of various aircraft. We attempted to define the epidemiologic characteristics of this complaint in military aviators of the Israeli Air Force. Methods:Aviators of various aircraft (fighter, attack helicopter, utility helicopter, and transport and cargo) completed 566 questionnaires. The questionnaires included various demographic variables as well as questions specifi-cally addressing type of aircraft, location, and severity of pain. Questionnaires were analyzed according to aircraft type, weekly and total number of flight hours. Results: Back pain was significantly more common among utility and attack helicopter pilots. Compared with only 64.02% of fighter pilots, 89.38% of utility and 74.55% of attack helicopter pilots reported some degree of back pain. Cervical region pain was more common among fighter pilots (47.2%) and utility helicopter pilots (47.3%) compared with attack helicopter (36.4%) and transport (22.3%) pilots. Cervical region pain of moderate-severe degree was more common among utility helicopter pilots (7.1%). Mid and low back pain at all degrees of severity were more common among helicopter pilots. A significant proportion of subjects suffered from pain in multiple regions, particularly among utility helicopter pilots (32.74%). Severity of pain was graded higher in all three regions (cervical, mid, and lower back) in utility helicopter pilots. Conclusions: Utility helicopter pilots have more prevalent and more severe back pain than pilots of other platforms. Yet, it is diffi-cult to make a clear association between type of aircraft and the region of back pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-705
Number of pages4
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Aviators
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain


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