"The Bends"


Decompression Illness

Treatment for decompression sickness or “the bends” was one of the original indications for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Decompression happens when returning to the surface after a dive caused by a rapid reduction of air pressure from breathing compressed air. Gas bubbles form in the vessels and tissues of the diver and disrupt the blood flow.

Symptoms include joint and muscle pain, swelling, skin lesions, respiratory problems, and abdominal pain. Onset of symptoms usually occurs within 30 minutes after a dive, but can take up to 12 hours.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works to reduce the bubble size until the inert gas is eliminated while tissues are saturated with 100 percent oxygen.