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Diving with Arthritis

Discussion in 'Divers with Disabilities' started by kimmajimma, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. kimmajimma

    kimmajimma Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Montreal, Canada
    Hi all,

    I have recently been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis.
    My case is not severe, but I still have days that are better than others.
    I'm a relatively new diver but I have noticed that, as with most exercise, I actually feel better overall after diving.

    I have problems coming out of the water with the tank on. And sometimes I have pain in my ankles after kicking.

    I'm wondering if other people on teh board have experience diving with forms of arthritis and if you could share tips or tricks or experiences with me?

  2. tedj01

    tedj01 Instructor, Scuba

    I have it in my knees; I sometimes dive with a neoprene sleeve type brace. It loses most of its support once in the water but adds a bit of thermal! I have had muscle problems with my back along with being thermally challenged so I tend to dive with a vested hood in addition to a wet suit. If i am getting cool I can always don the hood during the dive. But for the most part I try to avoid letting myself get too cold.

    As far as coming out of the water with all the equipment on, I once was on a trip where I had a cast off (torn Achilles tendon) on the Friday before the trip and it was taken off a week early. I consulted with the DMs before diving operations began and they were most accommodating in toting the gear for me. They gave me the parameters they wanted me to use in entrances and exits; I sometimes had to hang on tag line to let them get others out of the water first. And then, I also made adjustments in tips for the extra care they offered me.

    Oh, and I tend to not go for distance records from the boat. I don't like to dive with large groups of people close to me so I tend to stay very close to boat. I rarely get crowded under the boat. Everybody else seems to try to set swimming or distance records when they dive, generally speaking.
  3. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace

    One big tip for coming out of the water, since I'm assuming you're diving at home and it's cold: Get rid of that weight belt! When I started out, I would drop my belt as soon as I was out of the water, and that was 20 lbs I didn't have to carry up the slope. If your symptoms are severe, you can actually doff gear in the water, drag it onto dry land, and come back for it, or send someone else back for it. (I've done that in my doubles, when exit conditions were poor.)

    I've found that, as I continued to dive and got stronger, the amount of stress taken by my muscles increased and the stress on my joints has seemed to get better, although there are surfaces that present significant challenges (my biggest problem is an ankle that got put back togther, doesn't work normally, and has developed some definite arthritic issues).
  4. donooo

    donooo Instructor, Scuba

    I have AS, two bad hips, bad knees and just had surgery on my shoulder. Some how made DM, DCS and love diving. Diving is my replacement for all of the impact sports that I can no longer enjoy. Do it in a way and at a pace that you enjoy. When on a boat confide in a DM. Don't need special attention, just be "aware". Lots of places it is normal to get out of your rig in the water and pass it to crew. Maybe look at fins that are not so hard on your legs an joints. At least split fins and maybe Force fins. Probably most important is stay warm. Wear the long suit, maybe the next weight thicker, maybe a hood. Always wear booties and gloves when allowed or necessary. Find a way to carry your weight that is most comfortable for you. Maybe weight integrated BC or a weight harness.

    Stay away from rocky beach entrys !

    Enjoy the sport, get lots of exercise.

    adios don O
  5. pasley

    pasley Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, CA
    Dry-suit for maximum warmth. Split fins IMHO will move you in the water while reducing the strain on the joints. Backing up is challenging (I have not figured out how to do that in split fins), but you can do everything else including helicopter turns (pivot 360 degrees over one spot using only your fins to make the turn).

    Donning and removing gear in the water and having some younger person take it out and bring it back works well too.
  6. Web Monkey

    Web Monkey Omniheurist ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    I have no idea what "Ankylosing Spondylitis" is, but I do have arthritis in the ankle that I twisted several dozen times and possibly broke once, as well as in the knee I tore when I was in my 20's.

    SCUBA always makes all my joints feel better and my doctor recommended that I dive as often as possible. I had been using Jet fins, but my knee can't handle the rotational torque that they seem to create (feels like someone twisting my foot), so I switched to Twin Jets. They're soft and feel mushy, but nothing hurts anymore so I'm happy.

    The other advice i got was "If it hurts, don't do it.", which has helped quite a bit. A good buddy who's willing to help (carry a tank now and then) goes a long way.

  7. diverman1033dc

    diverman1033dc Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Escondido California
    I found a company (wetwear)that put zippers at the arms and legs so i can don my suit more easily since trying to pull a reg. suit is near impossible for me. I use fins that are large for me and have found the steel spring attachments instead of normal straps are great as getting to my fins to put on and remove is a big problem for me. I need help only getting out of my two piece suit when tired. All my dives for the last two years have been shore dives so i have got my gear and weights down to nil. I also use spilt fins that are best when the knee is bent for the power stroke instead of from the hip
  8. awd-turbo

    awd-turbo Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: here and there
    rebuilt knees here!! and arthritis in my fingers... I am young only 26 (guess thats what sf did to me) but i try to dive dry now(everything, gloves too)!!! just a thought... on my bad days i leave my tank and bcd at the shore, and come back for them later.. and when diving doubles, i more then likely wheel them down to the water if i can!!
  9. Fionab

    Fionab Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Around Manchester, North West, England
    Don't be afraid to ask for assistance.

    I had a double knee replacements last May and got in the water again around September with a lot of assistance from friends. In December I went on a live aboard and informed the company before hand the crew were great I kitted up once in th zodiac.

    As Lynn said take your tank or weight belt off in the water if you can, if your buddy isn't prepared to help - get another one :wink:
  10. betsybelow

    betsybelow Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Guam
    Hello fellow divers. I'm certified to use nitrox but haven't tried it yet as I'm nervous about combining it with the medications I'm on for Rheumatoid Arthritis. The PADI warnings regarding increased risk of oxygen toxicity with some medications are alarming though I know only some drugs increase the risk. I don't think my doctor is knowledgeable enough about diving to ask if my prescriptions are problematic with nitrox. The one I'm most concerned about is methotrexate as it is a chemo drug and other chemo meds came up in google searches I did on the topic. I also take hydroxycloroquin (plaquenil) and may start Humira soon. I realize every diver is different but do any of you have experience or expertise in enriched air diving with immunosuppressive drugs? I dive frequently with regular air without incident. Thanks for any input you can give!

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