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September 1998 Vol. 13, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Pain in the Back

from the September, 1998 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Do you have back pain? For divers, it might just come with the turf, say researchers from Germany.

They surveyed 165 divers who had made an average of 347 dives with a mean of 40 dives a year. Fifty-five percent reported back pain, usually localized within the lumbar segment of the spine, but fifteen percent had radiating pain, and six percent had to undergo serious treatment, which for some included surgery.

Researchers say that, although water counteracts gravitation, bearing heavy tanks and weights forces the cervical and lumbar spine into abnormal positions and may exacerbate symptoms, worsen preexisting diseases, and contribute to the degenerative process. In fact, when surveyed, fifty-three percent of the divers with back pain said their equipment was pain-provoking.

Researchers urge training agencies to teach about back pain and equipment designers to give more attention to spinal physiology.

[Spinal Problems in Scuba Divers. C. Plafki and C. Muth (Center for Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, Lubeck, Germany), W. Welslau (Center for Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, Kassel, Germany), R.H. Wittenberg, (Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Bochum, Germany)]

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