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Old 09-04-2019, 07:52 PM   #1  
New Hire
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Joined APC: Sep 2019
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Default Chronic lower back pain

Hi everyone. First post. So, almost 2 years ago, I had surgery for scoliosis that didn't quite go as planned and has left me with near-daily lower back pain. I'm still searching for possible solutions, but I'm left to suffer in the meantime.

I recently had my Transport Canada Class 1 exam and the doctor didn't seem too concerned about my back. It is important to mention, though, that I didn't bring up the pain. It didn't even occur to me because it wasn't hurting that day (a rarity). I've yet to receive my certificate as the TC medical people were recently on vacation for a few weeks, but I'm not anticipating any issues being approved.

What I am concerned about, as is my family (and they won't shut up about it), is whether my back pain will prevent me from being able to fly (i.e. sitting for long hours in a pilot's chair). My family is convinced I'm going to put people's lives at risk because I might become too incapacitated to fly, but I'm never in so much pain that I can't focus on the task at hand. I have a feeling they're being a little over-dramatic about the whole thing (they're basically convinced that I can't do any job that doesn't involve sitting at a desk).

Addendum: aviation has always been my passion and I'll be devastated if this doesn't work out for me, but safety comes first.

Second addendum: would it be better if I just did flying as a hobby so that no one relies on me? I could always make a career out of something else. Sorry for the excessive addenduming.
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Old 09-04-2019, 08:42 PM   #2  
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Joined APC: Jan 2018
Posts: 2,935

Predicting long term sequellae of chronic low back pain is little more than a guess. On the other hand, you could have a stroke and be suddenly incapacitated 30 seconds from now.

But the real issue with your back is sudden incapacitation. An acutely herniated disk could do that, but chronic back pain - unless it progresses to the point where you are incapacitated by spasm, generally does not.

In that respect you might actually be better off flying a two pilot aircraft. There is actually a reasonable amount of data concerning sudden incapacitation in the airline business - mostly due to heart attack or stroke - with pretty benign results, at least for the passengers. And yeah, you could turn the controls over to the other guy and get up and stretch a little.

The real issue is do you want to take the chance of investing in a career that may become too painful for you to continue in. That’s a definite - but almost impossible to quantify - risk.
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Old 09-05-2019, 08:07 AM   #3  
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Joined APC: Apr 2011
Position: retired 767(dl)
Posts: 4,636

Have you looked into epidural steroid shots? Worked for me. Drag a foot when fatigued.... (Just kidding)
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