Diving after joint replacement surgery

What should I consider when I return to diving after a joint replacement?

Joint replacement is becoming more common, increasing our quality of life and scope of activity as we age. There are several aspects to consider when returning to diving after a joint replacement, including the risk of damage to the replaced joint, emergency response and the risk of decompression sickness (DCS).

Remaining physically active is vital for our general health and important for maintaining bone quality. Better bone quality may help improve stability of a replaced joint, but too much of the wrong activity can cause wear and tear, fracture, loosening and destabilization of the implant and may require surgical revision. Survey studies and consensus recommendations of orthopedic surgeons show that most surgeons recommend low- to moderate-intensity physical activities — such as walking, swimming or cycling — after joint replacement. They discourage high-impact or contact activities such as running, soccer, football and hockey.

Any return to physical activity after surgery depends on complete recovery. Your surgical incisions need to be completely healed, and any complications such as infections must be resolved. To safely dive, you must be able to lift and carry your equipment without any limitations due to pain or restriction in motion. Pain medications that may impair your ability to respond to changes underwater could cause injury or even death to you or your fellow divers in an emergency. Even after you have recovered from the surgical procedure, you’ll need to have also recovered your strength and endurance to deal with any emergency situation that may arise.

A theoretical increase in DCS risk may also warrant postponing diving. Any condition in which blood flow to tissue or joints is compromised could hypothetically impair inert gas elimination and perhaps increase the risk of DCS at surgical sites. At this time, however, there are no objective data to support or quantify an increased risk of DCS at well-healed surgical sites without complications. Returning to diving after joint replacement isn’t necessarily straightforward and should always be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Once your surgeon and a physician with an understanding of dive medicine clear you for diving, we recommend a gradual return. Start in a controlled environment by swimming in a pool with fins, then work your way up to diving in a pool, then eventually move to open water. As with diving after an injury, there is no guarantee that you won’t reinjure the joint or be at increased risk to develop DCS, so diving conservatively is a good idea.
— Kaighley Brett, M.D

Categories

 2018 (59)
 2016 (119)
After anaesthesia Air Quality Altitude sickness Ama divers Anaerobic Metabolism Annual renewal Apnea Apnoea Arthroscopic surgery BCD Badages Bag valve mask Bandaids Barbell back squat Bench press Bouyancy compensators Boyle's Law Boyle\'s Law Bradycardia Brain Breast Cancer Breath Hold Diving Breath hold Breath-hold Bruising Buoyancy Burnshield CGASA CO2 Camera settings Cancer Remission Cancer treatments Cancer Cannabis and diving Cannabis Cape Town Dive Festival Carbon dioxide Charles' Law Charles\' Law Charles\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\' Law Charles\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\' Law Chemotherapy Coastalexcursion Cold Water Cold care Cold Conservation Contaminants Corals Cutaneous decompression DAN Courses DAN Profile DAN Researchers DAN medics DAN report DCI DCS Decompressions sickness DCS DReams Dalton's Law Dalton\'s Law Dalton\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\'s Law Dalton\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Law Decompression Illness Decompression Sickness Decompression illsnes Diseases Dive Chamber Dive Instruction Dive Instructor Dive Research Dive accidents Dive computers Dive health Dive medicines Dive medicine Dive safety Dive staff Diveleaders Diver Profile Divers Alert Diving Kids Diving career Diving emergencies Diving injuries Diving suspended Diving Domestic Dr Rob Schneider Drysuit diving Drysuit valves Drysuits EAP Ear pressure Ears injuries Education Emergency plans Environmental impact Equipment care Exercise Eye injuries FAQ Fatigue First Aid Equipment First Aid Training First Aid kits Fish Fitness Francois Burman Free diving Freediver Gas laws Gastric bypass Gordon Hiles HELP Haemorhoid treatment Health practitioner Heart High temperatures Hot Hydrostatic pressure Hyperbaric Chamber Hypothermia Indian Ocean Inert gas Infections Instinct Instructors Integrated Physiology International travel International Irritation Kids scubadiver Labour laws Legislation Leukemis Liability Risks Life expectancy Lifestyle Low blood pressure Low volume masks Lung injuries MOD Maintenance Mammalian Dive Response Mammalian effect Maximum operating depth Medical Q Medical questionaire Medical statement Middle ear pressure Military front press Mono Fins More pressure Mycobacterium marinum Nitrox Non-rebreather Mask Nosebleeds O2 providers O2 servicing OOxygen maintenance Ocean pollution Orbital implants Oronasal mask Oxygen Cylinder Oxygen Units Oxygen deicit Oxygen ears Oxygen equipment Oxygen masks Oxygen supply Oxygen therapy P J Prinsloo PJP Tech Part 3 Plastic Pneumothorax Pool Diving Provider course Pulmanologist Pulmonary Bleb Purge RAID South Africa Radio communications Rashes Recompression Report incidents Rescue training Resume diving SABS 019 Safety Stop Safety Saturation Diving Save our seas Science Scuba Injury Scuba children Scuba dive Scuba health Scubalearners Skin Bends Skin outbreak Skin rash Snorkeling Snorkels Sodwana Bay Splits Squeezes Supplemental oxygen Surgeries Surgery Tattoes Technical Diving The Bends The truth Thermal Notions Tides Travel tips Travel Tweezers Unconsciousness Underwater photographer Underwater pho Vaccines Vagus nerve Valsalva manoeuvers Vasvagal Syncope Venting Washout treatments White balance Winter Wound dressings Wreck dive Youth diver abrasion air-cushioned alert diver altitude antibiotics antiseptics bandages bent-over barbell rows body art breathing air calories burn cardiovascular checklist chemo port child clearances closed circuit scuba currents cuts dead lift decompression algorithms decongestants dehydration dive injuries dive medicing dive ready child dive reflex dive tribe diver rescue diver training dive diving attraction doctors domestic travel dri-suits dry mucous membranes dry suits dry ear spaces elearning electroytes emergency action plans emergency assessment equalizing exposure injuries flexible tubing health hospital humidity immersion pulmonary edema (IPE join DAN knee longevity lower stress marine pathogens medical issues medical procedures medical risk assesment minor illness mucous membranes nasal steroids nasal newdivers nitrogen bubbles off-gassed operating theatre operations orthopeadic outgas pain plasters post dive preserve rebreather mask rebreathers risk areas saturation scissors scuba equipment scuba single use sinus infections snorkeling. spearfishing stings strength sub-aquatic tattoo care tecnical diver thermal protection training trimix unified standards warmers water quality