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Pinched Nerve or DCS

Discussion in 'Ask Dr. Decompression' started by Kat Wyble, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Kat Wyble

    Kat Wyble Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: California, USA
    Hello! Apologies for the long thread...but need some input

    I am currently getting my open water cert and on Nov 23 I completed 3 dives off the coast of California. The dives were 33 ft (39 mins), 27 ft (29 mins), and 35 ft (33 mins). A bit of history on me... I had a labrum shoulder surgery on my left shoulder in 2012 with no complications after, but I have had slight limited motion in the extreme ranges, but overall good range of motion.

    In between my 2nd and 3rd dive I felt my left shoulder a bit sore, not painful, but just felt like I had a heavy uncomfortable pack on it. After we completed the dives and headed back to shore on the boat my left shoulder continued to feel a little sore. About 3-4 hours after the dive on my drive home from the coast to elevation of 2200 ft... verified with instructor this drive was ok and he said yes as he lives near me. I started to feel a weird sensation down my left arm (felt warm/cold sensations) and no pain. I got home and called DAN gave them my symptoms and the dive profiles and they concluded on the phone that it was not DCS. They suggested I take an anti-inflammatory and sleep. I was exhausted. The next 2 days I had no issues or sensations. On the 3rd day I was driving a few hours and the weird warm/cold and slight tingling/numbness sensation returned with no pain. It was off and on throughout my 8 hour drive. I do drive with my left arm on the wheel majority. During the drive DAN called me to follow-up and described that I was having the same sensations. DAN said that there was no indication of DCS and that is was more muscloskeleton. That night I started to feel a "knot" on the backside of my shoulder blade, so the following morning I got a massage and the massage discovered a lot more knots throughout my back, shoulder blade, and lower neck. The day after the massage my shoulder was sore from the massage and manipulation of the shoulder. The weird sensations continue in my arm through today. They are not constant. They come and go. They don't disrupt my sleep. No weakness in my left arm, hands, and shoulder. The warm sensations radiate throughout my arm and sometime linger on the top of my hand and forearm.

    I've been doing heat packs, icy hot, and anti-inflammatory with relief for a time. I have continued to run/exercise and there is no pain or impact. Now my shoulder has been feeling tight the last 2 days (feels like it wants to pop). I have had similar sensations of this nature before after putting my arm in a weird position and it in a sense falling asleep.

    I plan to go to my family doctor tomorrow to get examined for the weird nerve sensations... Did I mess up by not going to a dive doctor right away? What could these sensations be and what else should I tell the doctor? Is it too late to talk and get care from a dive medicine doctor?

    Thank you!
  2. fmerkel

    fmerkel Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Salish Sea (Seattle)
    Analysis of DCS symptoms over the net are quit problematic. Usually, people come here, outline their symptoms, then everyone tells them to call DAN. You already called DAN.
    So.....did DAN get it wrong?
    I don't think so. Those are very benign dives with almost no N2 on board. You took the course > look it up. Verify that for yourself.
    With minimal N2 on board what could be the problem?
    1. The shoulder. Lots of weight, new movements and stresses that you are not used to. Seems the most likely scenario. Being tired after 3 dives when you ARE used to it is normal. When you aren't it can be exhausting, especially with the added stress of being a new diver.
    2. Neck/upper back. Pinched nerves in the neck can definitely lead to symptoms as you describe for exactly the same reasons as above. That diagnosis is maybe even more problematic than DCS. Unfortunately in some ways the treatment is even more difficult. You can't take a simple chamber ride and get better. You are most likely gong to do more than a spot of physical therapy and time.
    drk5036 likes this.

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