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Joint pain and Doppler-detectable bubbles in altitude (Hypobaric) decompressionThe observation that altitude decompression sickness (DCS) is associated with pain in the lower extremities is not new, although it is not a consistent finding. DCS in divers is generally in the upper body, an effect often attributed to non-loading of the body while immersed. In caisson workers, DCS is reported more in the lower extremities. Surprisingly, many researchers do not mention the location of DCS joint pain, apparently considering it to be random. This is not the case for the tissue ratios encountered in studying decompression associated with simulated EVA. In NASA/JSC tests, altitude DCS generally presented first in either the ankle, knee, or hip (83 percent = 73/88). There was a definite statistical relation between the maximum Spencer precordial Doppler Grade and the incidence of DCS in the extremity, although this is not meant to imply a casual relation between circulating gas bubbles and joint pain. The risk of DCS with Grade 4 was considerably higher than that of Grades 0 to 3. The DCS risk was independent of the 'tissue ratio.' There was a predominance of lower extremity DCS even when exercise was performed with the upper body. The reason for these locations we hypothesize to be attributed to the formation of tissue gas micronuclei from kinetic and tensile forces (stress-assisted nucleation) and are the result of the individuals ambulating in a 1g environment. Additionally, since these showers of Doppler bubbles can persist for hours, it is difficult to imagine that they are emanating solely from tendons and ligaments, the supposed site of joint pain. This follows from Henry's law linking the volume of joint tissue (the solvent) and the solubility coefficient of inert gas; there is volumetrically insufficient connective tissue to produce the prolonged release of gas bubbles. If gas bubbles are spawned and released from connective tissue, their volume is increased by those from muscle tissue. Therefore, the nexus between Doppler-detectable gas bubbles and joint-pain decompression sickness is essentially a statistical, rather than a direct, one.
Document ID
19940007070
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Powell, Michael R. (Space Biomedical Research Inst. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1993
Publication Information
Publication: NASA. Johnson Space Center, Sixth Annual Workshop on Space Operations Applications and Research (SOAR 1992), Volume 2
Subject Category
AEROSPACE MEDICINE
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19940007055Analytic PrimarySixth Annual Workshop on Space Operations Applications and Research (SOAR 1992), volume 2