Introduction: Low back pain (LBP) is one of the commonest disabilities affecting serving personnel of Indian armed forces. Till date there is no consistent data linking LBP to the job profile of air force personnel performing duties on ground or in flight. High gravitational force, whole body vibrations, working in closed space or high altitudes have effect on lumbar spine .With advent of space travel, problem of lumbar spine will be compounded by microgravity and radiation exposure. This study aims to study the prevalence of low back pain in Indian armed forces. An attempt is made to find the risk factors affecting the lumbar spine among pilots, paratroopers, deep sea divers and ground personnel.
Materials & Methods: This observational study covered a period of six years (2012 to 2018).Data was collected from medical directorates & Service Hospitals regarding prevalence of LBP. Factors studied were, hospital admissions, demographic characteristics and type of LBP among personnel of all three services. Data collected was compared with that of the world militaries. Analysis was done to find the risk factors affecting lumbar spine in pilots, commandos, deep sea divers and ground duty Air force personnel.
Observation & Results: The prevalence of LBP was found to be 0.35%, 1.98% and 0.82% in Army, Air Force and Navy respectively. Total Hospital admissions in 2012 were 4513 while in 2018; it was 4834.LBP affected 70% of personnel between the age group of 30 to 39 years. Air force pilots with 10 to 15 years of service had maximum complaints of LBP. The job profile did not show a definitive association. Astronauts had a 53–68% increased risk of experiencing LBP and a fourfold increased risk of developing herniated intervertebral discs during microgravity exposure and within one-year post flight.