The Bends

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The diver will often think of any reason for symptoms after a dive, other than the possibility of a bend. A good example is joint pain following a dive. The use of heavy scuba equipment and exertion getting in and out of the boat, or after a long walk up a beach, is often used to explain any joint pains. DCI is a complicated medical problem and can manifest itself anywhere in the body at any time during or up to 48 hours after a dive. If you have dived and are displaying signs or symptoms, or feeling generally "unwell" - you must consider the possiblity of DCI and seek medical advice.

Symptoms of the Bends

Sometimes it will be obvious to you and others around you, or it may be very subtle and difficult to recognise. If you recognise any of the symptoms described after a dive then get medically assessed as soon as possible. A hyperbaric doctor will make a clinical decision following examination. Any symptoms and the dive history will be reviewed and a series of tests undertaken to show changes in your neurological and behavioural reactions.

Untreated bends cause damage!

Decompression sickness

Failure to treat promptly and appropriately may lead to permanent impairment. Even a so called "mild" symptom, such as a skin rash or joint pain, could be indicating that your body has not adequately decompressed. More serious symptoms may well follow.

Immediate recompression is essential and will remove the excess gas load and promote the healing of damaged tissue. Delayed recompression will aid the healing of damaged tissue. Where oxygen has been breathed on the surface, via a mask, symptoms may improve. I had a pins and needles feeling along both legs. The doctor on the island did not identify the problem as decompression illness and simply advised me to rest. Upon returning home to North America a day and a half later, the numbness had not improved, so I sought medical attention and was treated in a decompression chamber.

After three sessions in the chamber, the diver has lingering symptoms in her legs. An MRI did not reveal any abnormalities, and the diver continues to dive albeit conservatively.

Padi Channels

Notes from DAN : Muscular leg weakness after a dive should always be treated as an emergency, and divers should receive a full neurological evaluation, first aid oxygen, and evacuation to the nearest emergency room, where proper steps can be taken to ensure timely treatment and the best possible outcome. The use of oxygen first aid increases the probability that symptoms will resolve and should be started as soon as possible. In this case, after 45 minutes of breathing oxygen, symptoms improved but did not resolve completely.


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Breathing oxygen for a longer time could have helped. Diver Develops DCS After Getting Lost After a minute wreck dive to 78 feet 24 meters and one hour surface interval, a group of divers made a second dive to 78 feet 24 meters for about 45 minutes. The diver on air was the last one to return to the boat. Within 15 minutes of surfacing, he began developing symptoms of decompression sickness DCS.


  1. Bonnier Corp. Website Data Disclosure?
  2. Introduction.
  3. It Happened to Me: Decompression Sickness / The Bends.
  4. The return trip took just under two hours, and the boat was met at the dock by emergency medical services EMS. The diver was taken to a local hospital. The diver later stated he got lost following a grouper and lost sight of the wreck. He reported his computer did not enter decompression mode and he performed a safety stop.

    Urban Dictionary: the bends

    Notes from DAN : This dive profile would fall outside the limits of most, if not all, recreational diving table planners but the diver stated his dive computer did not mandate decompression. This may have been due to a number of reasons, including multi-level profiles in each dive, or the gas setting in the dive computer. Regardless, the diver suffered what appears to have been DCS. Many other divers on the boat elected to dive with nitrox, which gives a longer no-stop time than air at these depths. Remember, proper training is required to plan dives using nitrox.

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