CASE PRESENTATION: The patient had insidious severe low back pain without radiation or neurological deficit, resulting in 24 hours of hospitalization. Spinal degeneration was discovered upon imaging. Four months later, it still took up to 10 minutes for him to get out of bed and several minutes to exit the jet due to stiffness and pain. He had discontinued his regular Marine Corps fitness training due to pain avoidance. Pain severity ranged from 1.5-7.1 cm on a visual analog scale. His Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire score was 5 out of 24. The pilot's pain was managed with the coordinated efforts of the flight surgeon, physiatrist, physical therapist, and doctor of chiropractic. Following this regimen he had no pain and no functional disability; he was able to fly multiple training missions per week and exercise to Marine Corps standards.
CONCLUSION: A course of care integrating flight medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, and physiatry appeared to alleviate pain and restore function to this F/A-18 aviator with low back pain.
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