Knee joint pain after flying
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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The “bends” occur when a person goes from scuba diving to high altitude flying too quickly. Other situations where this can occur: people flying in unpressurized aircraft at high altitude, such as stowaways in unpressurized parts of the aircraft; passengers after failure of the cabin pressure vessel; pilots in an unpressurized cockpit.
Divers who dive and then travel in aircraft are at risk even in pressurized aircraft because the cabin air pressure is less than the air pressure at sea level. This causes inert gases (primarily nitrogen), normally dissolved in body fluid and tissues, to come out of dissolution and form bubbles.
Severe pain in the elbows and knees occur. It can cause death. Slow decompression is the key to avoiding this problem. Hyperbaric oxygen is used as treatment.
People with osteoarthritis of the knees will get tremendous stiffness and pain in the knees after sitting for extended periods of time- as with airplane trips. The trick here is to get up and walk about the cabin as much as possible during a flight. If possible get an exit row where you have more leg room.
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