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Arch Hellen Med, 34(6), November-December 2017, 727-736


Musculoskeletal lesions of the spine in aircrew

S. Naoum
Center of Aviation Medicine, 251 Airforce General Hospital, Athens, Greece

The extended duration of flight exercises and aerial clashes significantly affect the blood supply to the neck muscles in pilots. This constitutes a major cause of premature muscle fatigue and reduces the maximum voluntary contraction, which normally exerts a protective effect against cervical charges. This article reviews the effects of +Gz on the musculoskeletal load and the mobility of the cervical spine, and the subsequent degenerative diseases of the spine and intervertebral discs. Factors causing neck pain and herniated intervertebral discs in high performance aircraft pilots are delineated, including flight hours, exposure to +Gz, muscle strength, the position of the head, the helmet and the devices placed on or in the helmet, exposure to cold and, last but not least, fatigue. In spite of recognition of these problems, there has been a lack of long-term monitoring studies to investigate early spinal degeneration in pilots and its association with their occupational conditions. Because of this deficiency, numerous problems and related issues remain unanswered and need to be explored.

Key words: Acceleration +Gz, Cervical spine, Degenerative diseases of the cervical spine, Herniated intervertebral disc, Intervertebral disc, Pilots.

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