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How long after accident can mild DCS still be treated?

Discussion in 'Ask Dr. Decompression' started by TijlVDB, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. TijlVDB

    TijlVDB Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Belgium
    So I was doing my DM training last month in Egypt. One certain day I immediately went back in after shallow Discover Scuba Dive (max 12m, 40 min) dive since one of the students lost a fin and didn't notify us until we noticed it. So I tried to recover it on my remaining air for another twenty or so minutes, again staying relatively shallow (15m). Both subsequent dives had safety stops. This is the moment I 'suspect' getting a very mild hit.

    Ever since I've been experiencing very mild joint pains but I always neglected them due to Cylinder hauling or sleeping in bad beds/awkward positions. I also flew in a pressurized aircraft home without real significant symptoms.

    I've been home for a month now, my physician contacted a befriended diving doctor with my concerns. He said it's very unlikely to not have manifested any significant symptoms.

    So far I've only noticed the joint pains, some fatigue and minor numbness/tingling in feet or hands; which I am now very focused on so I can't say if this occurs more frequent than before/normal.

    So some questions:
    1. How significant/long does a symptom need to be to be really concerned? And can this be diagnosed if it's microbubbling?
    2. Is mild DCS still treatable after 1.5 months, or should I just hope it goes away naturally?
    3. Can I still dive (if untreatable)? As a DSD leader I would still like to regularly perform shallow, confined dives.

  2. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas Central Plains
    I'm not sure what that statement means, but your diving sounds risk free. I guess the safety stops were a good idea, but I wouldn't have bothered.

    I doubt it's diving related, but it'd be wise to seek a medical exam. The numbness & tingling could be a significant warning, or nothing - but play it safe.
  3. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    I am sorry that no one commented on this until today. I for one never noticed it.

    I would say with 99.987% confidence that your aches and pains have nothing to do with decompression sickness.
    • According to the PADI tables, your pressure group after the second dive was group Q--not anywhere close to NDL. You could have stayed at that depth another half hour without reaching NDL.
    • DCS symptoms usually show up pretty early. The only time I have ever been with anyone with clear DCS symptoms, they appeared before he was out of the water. The only other time a co-diver got symptoms that were probably (I'm not convinced) DCS, those symptoms came on about 10 hours later. It is very rare for them to come on more than 24 hours later.
    • If it is 1.5 months later, I cannot imagine it has anything to do with DCS. Even if you had a very mild case, it would have likely gone away on its own by then.
  4. divad

    divad Solo Diver

    Ruh Ro.....
  5. DandyDon

    DandyDon Old men ought to be explorers ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: One kilometer high on the Texas Central Plains
    Nope, I don't think so. Some say to keep treating as long as it helps, but since you never did - not applicable.

    I would, but I'm not a good example. You should seek medical opinions. I feel pretty dumb about some of the things I do in for, but still a good idea.
  6. Duke Dive Medicine

    Duke Dive Medicine ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    Ditto John, sorry, I just noticed this myself. It sounds to me like you may have suffered some sort of mechanical injury. DCS from repetitive ascents on dives to shallow depths is not unheard of, but it would be very unusual with the dive profile you posted. Even if this was DCS, it would probably be too far out from the injury for hyperbaric oxygen therapy to have any effect. Again if this is DCS, you should expect the symptoms to resolve over time.

    Best regards,
  7. couv

    couv Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: 13th floor of the Ivory Tower
    Not arguing, just trying to understand the physiology. I imagine the gas from the micro bubbles would be re-absorbed so returning to pressure would have no effect; but why wouldn't HBO help with the healing process?

  8. Duke Dive Medicine

    Duke Dive Medicine ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter


    Sometimes HBO2 is used for healing soft tissue injuries but it's not typically a reimbursable indication. You mostly see it used with professional sports teams. If this was bends (and to repeat, given the description I think this is unlikely), that far out from the injury, HBO2 would be unlikely to help.

    Best regards,
    couv likes this.
  9. KristenK

    KristenK Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Colorado Springs
    If the tingling and numbness continue, please do see a doctor. I was diagnosed with Raynaud's disease several years ago, which is a circulation problem that results in numbness, tingling, pain, and color changes in extremities. Fortunately for me it was due to stress and the climate where I live. But there can be underlying problems that are causing it (like immune disorders, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease etc.) that are serious and should be ruled out. Better safe than sorry. :)

    Take care of YOU!
    Duke Dive Medicine and DandyDon like this.

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