DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Diving After Joint Replacement

I am 59 years old and had hip replacement surgery two months ago after an automobile accident. I have completely recovered and started a muscle-strengthening program prescribed by my doctor.

I have been certified for a number of years and do not want to give up scuba diving. When would it be safe to go back to diving, and are there any problems with diving following hip replacement surgery?

The greatest concern for any type of exercise after joint replacement surgery is for the surgical site and bone to be completely healed. When your doctor releases you for full activity, and you are able to perform your exercise and daily living activities with full weight-bearing and no difficulties – such as pain, swelling or stiffness – diving would probably be allowed.

There isn't much difference between the physical demand placed on joints during a workout in the gym and during scuba diving. As long as the area has an adequate blood flow to help with the offgassing of nitrogen, a problem is unlikely.

As with any type of injury and returning to diving, there is no guarantee that you will not have an injury to the joint(s). However, the greatest risk a diver runs is the amount of exposure (depth and time) they have to nitrogen. It might be wise to dive conservatively by not diving as deep, as long or as often when you return to diving.