What happens if you get the bends?

Bubbles forming in or near joints are the presumed cause of joint pain (the bends). With high levels of bubbles, complex reactions can take place in the body. The spinal cord and brain are usually affected, causing numbness, paralysis, impaired coordination and disorders of higher cerebral function.

Is the bends painful?

The less severe type (or musculoskeletal form) of decompression sickness, often called the bends, typically causes pain. The pain usually occurs in the joints of the arms or legs, back, or muscles. Sometimes the location is hard to pinpoint.

What happens if you get the bends? – Related Questions

How likely is it to get bends?

Joint pain (“the bends”) accounts for about 60% to 70% of all altitude DCS cases, with the shoulder being the most common site for altitude and bounce diving, and the knees and hip joints for saturation and compressed air work.


Time to onset Percentage of cases
within 24 hours 98%
within 48 hours 100%

At what depth do you get the bends?

One diver got the bends – a painful condition caused by gas bubbles forming in the bloodstream – from diving in water less than four metres deep. Dr Griffiths said that a study of 350 cases showed at least 35 had dived in less than 10 metres of water.

How long do bends symptoms last?

Symptoms start to become more serious at a depth of about 300 feet. Once a diver returns to the water’s surface, the symptoms usually go away within a few minutes.

How do you treat mild bends?

Treatment for the bends:
  1. Get the diver in a horizontal position, or recovery position if vomiting is occurring.
  2. Immediately begin emergency oxygen treatment by having the diver breathe 100% pure oxygen.
  3. If possible, give the diver fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration which can increase symptoms.

How serious are the bends?

Decompression sickness (DCS), known as ‘the bends’ because of the associated joint pain, is a potentially deadly condition caused by bubbles of nitrogen gas forming in the blood and tissues. It’s most common among divers using scuba tanks, but can affect free-divers and people at high altitude.

Why do freedivers not get the bends?

Decompression sickness (DCS) after freediving is very rare. Freedivers simply do not on-gas enough nitrogen to provoke DCS. Thus, very few cases of DCS in freedivers have ever been reported, and these have involved repeated deep dives in a short time frame.

Can you get the bends at 20 feet?

It’s rare, but the bends can occur at 10–20 feet (3.0–6.1 m). The bends generally aren’t a concern unless you go deeper than 30 feet (9.1 m), but the amount of time you spend in the water is a big factor here.

Do pilots get the bends?

The longer the duration of the exposure to altitudes of 18,000 ft. and above, the greater the risk of altitude DCS. There are some reports indicating a higher risk of altitude DCS with increasing age. There is some indication that recent joint or limb injuries may predispose individuals to developing “the bends.”

Do fighter pilots breathe pure oxygen?

Today’s fighter pilots therefore operate in cabins pressurized according to a pressurization schedule,15 they breathe up to 100% oxygen,15 and they wear and use pressure breathing equipment.

Why do fighter pilots wear oxygen?

Oxygen masks introduce positive-pressure and force air into the lungs, which can counter the effects of hypoxia caused by rising altitudes and G-force.

Why can’t pilots wear sunglasses?

Polarized lenses may also interfere with visibility through an aircraft windscreen by enhancing striations in laminated materials and mask the sparkle of light that reflects off shiny surfaces such as another aircraft’s wing or windscreen, which can reduce the time a pilot has to react in a “see-and-avoid” traffic