paulflexes saidAs far as my job goes, I'm definitely going for a career change to something that doesn't require sitting for long periods of time. Until then, I'll cut my hours at work (sub-contracted pilot - hours are flexible). Of course that'll mean less pay for a while, but I'll think of something to supplement the income 'till I get settled into another career.
My back was already going bad in the 1970s, but my military career didn't give me any options. You were either in and did the job, or else you were out, and I had too much time invested (and loved it too much) to be out.
So some things I've done before, that's I've already mentioned to you, when I, too, have back pain that lingers over weeks. Mine is due to degenerative disc disease of the L4-5 vertebrae, and can never really get permanently better without surgery, and even that's doubtful.
- Bought an air mattress from Select Comfort (now called Sleep Number) in 1993. Instead of dreading the old bed spring mattress when my back would begin hurting, it's where I now found I could get relief.
- I was a stomach sleeper, so I had to break myself of that habit. Now I mostly sleep on my sides, alternating, with my knees drawn up a bit. Sometimes I'm flat on my back, but in bad cases, I put a pillow under my knees. Also a pillow between my knees when on my side if I'm really hurting.
- Take ibuprofen early when I feel the first twinges, and keep it up continuously for a few days after the pain stops. Ordinarily I only take pain pills when I'm actually in pain, but for back pain it's important to continue while it's healing. Sorta like finishing all your antibiotics, even when you're feeling better. And for bad pain I have pills with codeine, and other "good stuff" the doctor prescribes, that I use only sparingly. I know narcotics are a problem for you as a pilot.
BTW, ask a doctor how large a dosage of ibuprofen you can take. You may find it exceeds by possibly double the amount the over-the-counter label will recommend. In fact, the VA used to give me single pills that were 4 times the common dosage. But that's tough on your body, and the VA regularly monitored my blood & urine, so check with a doctor first.
- Rearrange my daily routine for a few days to become very sedentary (well, OK, MORE sedentary). And no going out for drinks or to restaurants during that time, the chairs usually very tough on my back. And doing as little car travel as possible, if any. I would just hibernate & heal.
- Walk very slowly and carefully, using my cane even around the house. I know, I look quite infirm, but appearance becomes secondary to results. The cane (of the proper length, don't use one too long) helps to stabilize me, and take some of the work off the lower back. The cane also reminds me to move more carefully & slowly, and not forget and quickly spin around to see something.
- No masturbating for a few days, even in bed. I've found an orgasm can cause the back muscles to tighten momentarily, at least for me, which is what I'm trying to avoid.
- A doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers, in addition to pain pills. This helps to break the vicious cycle of pain causing muscle pulls on the spine, leading to more pain. The VA gave me Methocarbamol (aka Carbamol, trade Name Robaxin in the US). It has other names when combined with pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. I don't believe Carbamol is a controlled substance, but again, a possible issue for you with the FAA you'll need to check.
- Applying continuous heat to the lower back. I have an electric heating belt I can wear around the house, and the chemical belt pads work well, too, especially if you're out & about, at work, driving and elsewhere. They cost about $7.00 for 2 at Walgreens drug stores, and each lasts 8 full hours, which is all they say you should do a day. My partner C. used them successfully last week when his own back got bad.
- Most important, you've got to stick with a treatment strategy without let-up. This won't heal in a day, and approaching it from the standpoint of "I did something specific today, so I'll wait until tomorrow to evaluate the results" will fail. Your therapy must be continuous and long term, even on days when you don't feel as much pain, or any at all. I usually go for at least a week after the pain finally stops.
This isn't like an upset stomach where you take some Mylanta and it goes away in a few hours. Or a sore muscle that a massage therapist can help in a single session, and then you're done. If you've got fundamental physical changes to your spine then you're going to see a lot more of this. Sorry...