Diving with a Bad Back

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

Litefoot

Contributor
Messages
555
Reaction score
762
Location
Utah
Just got the bad news of a slipped disc between L1 and L2 after an MRI last week. I’m managing the pain down my right side with gabapentin. Doc says no lifting over 20 lb for next 2-3 months.

I just got a new dry suit and my dive buddy was going to take me on some learning shore dives in shallow water in the next few weeks.

Do you think it’s feasible that if my buddy is willing to help me get my kit to the shore, get it rigged up, inflate the wing and float it to me in chest deep water that I could don it? And then dive safely without hurting myself?

Or do I just need to curb my enthusiasm and heal up a bit more?
 
1) I would check with my doctor about whether he would sign off for me to do (even shallow) dives on any new medication.

2) it’s up to you to assess risk of hurting your back worse, but assuming you are using a jacket style BC with quick release buckles, this should be relatively easy to don your gear assuming you are in calm / lake water and not ocean breakers. Don’t forget to hook up your drysuit inflator.

Also note you’ll be pretty worthless to your buddy for any sort of rescue scenario aside from surfacing and calling 911.
 
I think there's another thread about that... A new normal... :D

Yes, some buddies are great about helping you get in the water, and gearing up. Some boats are great as well, but then, they usually kit you up, push you in, but then allow you to dekit at the back, and they'll fish both you and your gear out.
 
The trouble will begin when you have to quickly kick while twisting to correct a buoyancy problem. That might tweak your back and then you're non ambulatory in the water and your buddy will have to truly rescue you. Not to mention the blinding pain might make your door spit your reg and suck water... if you were doing it wet I wouldn't think twice, but new drysuit (new to dry diving and diving) I'd consider waiting. Sorry man
 
I have been down the back road from disc to lumbar injections to surgery. My advice (not a doc) would be to do nothing that strains it until you are well into PT recovery and feel good. If you make it worse now the road is potentially ugly.
I'm going to echo this from my experience and at the same time say getting in the water and diving made me feel significantly better (at least for a while) with my latest round of lumbar spine "irritations".

If this is your first go-round, my suggestion is to err on the side of caution until you learn how your body works in this new circumstance. Part of it is retraining yourself in how to move in ways that minimize the strain.

The "right" back-brace has been a huge help to me with stabilizing and decompressing things. I actually dove with it

Maybe just get in a pool and gently float ...
 
The trouble will begin when you have to quickly kick while twisting to correct a buoyancy problem. That might tweak your back and then you're non ambulatory in the water and your buddy will have to truly rescue you. Not to mention the blinding pain might make your door spit your reg and suck water... if you were doing it wet I wouldn't think twice, but new drysuit (new to dry diving and diving) I'd consider waiting. Sorry man
I think you’re right to distinguish between wet diving and my inexperience in dry diving. I can totally see me thrashing around in the dry suit going feet up and wrenching my back trying to get back upright. Yeah, I need to be careful. I’m a slow healer at my age. I waited so long for the drysuit and then waited for the lake ice to melt and now this. Well I can wait a little more I guess.
 
I think there's another thread about that... A new normal... :D

Yes, some buddies are great about helping you get in the water, and gearing up. Some boats are great as well, but then, they usually kit you up, push you in, but then allow you to dekit at the back, and they'll fish both you and your gear out.
Yes, Pete, I read that thread and I want you to know that I still pray for a good outcome for you.
 
You can call DAn for advice. They might tell you that the problem is that yur symptoms might mask a decompression illness or make your problem worse. In either case, treament to discriminate between the two may require a trip to a chamber. They gave me similar advice when I asked about diving with a bulging disc injury a few years ago. Ended up canceling a trip to Hawaii over that one. Thank goodness for DAN trip insurance.

Your buddy might be a saint for his or her willingness to help as you describe. Have you considered that you may be putting them in an awkward position if you get further injured? Could you assist your buddy if they required a tow back to the entry point if they became incapacitated.

A trip to Fiji was also threatened by my condition at the time. My chiropracter put me on a recovery regimen (which indluded aqua exercise and swimming) and suggested if I rollowed it religiously, I could probably make it to Fiji. I did follow it and went on the trip. Heal up before getting back into scuba
 
Scoliosis here. For me, back pain was worse in the days of jacket bcd and waist weight belt. Since BP & Wing it became more easy on the back for me.

I am not a sidemount zealot, I enjoy the diving whether BM or SM. Nonetheless, days when I suffer from back I do take SM rig, two AL10 tanks. I choose dive sites which are easy to go back and forth each time with one tank, or buddy helps carrying one. Then I don the tanks on waist depth, no back suffering at all. It could be placebo effect, but I always feel better on the back while diving, or my back stretches better, don't know.

To OP: For lumbar vertebrae L1-L2, I think if you have a weight belt this is where it can be a problem for you. Moreover, you mention a new dry suit and shallow water, this may imply more weights? So, be careful on the back: nothing is worth permanent disc damage, you have lots of years to dive, but not so many vertebrae to spare...
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/swift/

Back
Top Bottom