- Hyperbaric medicine
- Information guide
- Future hyperbaric chamber
Pain is the most common symptom of decompression sickness experienced by professional divers. The pain is usually light at first, but it may get progressively worse until it becomes unbearable. It may seem to come from the inside of the bones and will often be localised near a joint. It is easy to misdiagnose this type of pain as being due to a sprain or a bruise. Pain should not be relieved with drugs, as the level of pain experienced is often the only way to measure the effectiveness of the treatment.
Abdominal pain may be a symptom of spinal cord damage, and therefore should be considered as a potentially serious symptom. The diver should be examined carefully for other signs and symptoms of DCS, and receive the appropriate care. The condition of a diver experiencing abdominal pain after a dive should be monitored closely for several hours after surfacing.
Short duration aches and bursts of pains may be signs of decompression stress, but if there is any doubts as to the origin of the pain, assume that the diver is suffering from decompression sickness and provide appropriate care.
Lymphatic DCS occurs when gas bubbles block the lymphatic vessels. The subsequent buildup of fluid in the tissues causes localized swelling and edema. Recompression treatment should be provided.
Cutaneous DCS refers to decompression sickness caused by gas bubbles blocking blood flow in the cutaneous veins. It will present itself as a swollen, red or mottled surface on a painful area of the skin. If you have any doubts about your condition, contact the Centre de médecine de plongée du Québec.
Other skin symptoms that are frequently observed after a dive include painless rashes, itchiness, and a tingling sensation. These symptoms are usually due to gas dissolving directly in the skin and therefore occur after dives in which the skin was exposed to gas (I.e. in a chamber, with a dry suit), but not after dives made in wet suits. This is considered minor decompression sickness, and does not require hyperbaric treatment.
Symptoms of localized pain, edema and/or areas of tender, red or mottled skin are signs of type I mild decompression sickness. They should be treated with the appropriate oxygen treatment table. If you have any doubts on your condition, contact the Centre de médecine de plongée du Québec.