Commercial Diver Bone Osteonecrosis Disease
Commercial divers have very hazardous jobs. They work deep beneath the water’s surface on a daily basis. There are many dangers that cause serious medical conditions to divers, especially those who spend years working underwater. Some problems are immediate, such as decompression sickness and gas embolisms. Others, such as bone osteonecrosis develop over time. The bones weaken, and the patient’s condition worsens, with the potential for permanent disability.
What Causes Bone Osteonecrosis?
Bone osteonecrosis is a potential long-term effect of commercial diving. Also known as avascular necrosis, it is a progressive disease caused by lowered blood flow to the bones as well as to the joints. Insufficient blood flow decreases the bone’s ability to make new material. The existing bones, therefore, start to become damaged and weak.
Bone osteonecrosis most commonly affects the upper legs, knees, upper arms, ankles, and shoulders. The first symptom is usually pain when using the affected area or bending the joints. As the problem worsens, it becomes difficult to move without being in extreme pain. At first, the symptoms are similar to those of arthritis, so medical tests must be done for a complete diagnosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Medical diagnosis encompasses a variety of tests including x-rays, CAT scans, and bone scans. While it may be possible to slow it down, there is no actual cure for the disease. However, it can be treated using different methods. Medication is essential, particularly to minimize pain.
The patient must limit their activities and cannot put weight on the affected limbs. The use of crutches is likely necessary. In some instances, the patient may respond well to bone grafts. If a joint is involved, replacement surgery is possible. There are many other factors that must be considered by a specialist in deciding the exact treatment in each particular case.
What to Do After a Diagnosis of Bone Osteonecrosis
Commercial divers are at a high risk for this and other medical conditions due to repeated deep dives. Those who have been diagnosed are advised to stop diving. The increased pressure on the affected bones and joints will worsen the pain and progression of the disease. A commercial diver, therefore, is likely unable to work.
The Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act, is federal legislation that gives workers such as commercial divers the right to bring legal action against their employers. The company is required to comply with OSHA requirements for a safe work environment. They need to ensure that equipment is properly maintained and that the crew members are trained. If the company was negligent in their actions, they may be responsible for the employee’s injuries.
The first step is to seek legal assistance from a qualified commercial dive attorney. Your lawyer will evaluate the injury and gather the necessary information to bring legal action against your employer if it is warranted. It is important that you protect your rights with help from a knowledgeable attorney. You may be owed money for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, among other things. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after the diagnosis to evaluate your claim.