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2 definitions found
 for the bends
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Bend \Bend\, n. [See Bend, v. t., and cf. Bent, n.]
     1. A turn or deflection from a straight line or from the
        proper direction or normal position; a curve; a crook; as,
        a slight bend of the body; a bend in a road.
        [1913 Webster]
     2. Turn; purpose; inclination; ends. [Obs.]
        [1913 Webster]
              Farewell, poor swain; thou art not for my bend.
        [1913 Webster]
     3. (Naut.) A knot by which one rope is fastened to another or
        to an anchor, spar, or post. --Totten.
        [1913 Webster]
     4. (Leather Trade) The best quality of sole leather; a butt.
        See Butt.
        [1913 Webster]
     5. (Mining) Hard, indurated clay; bind.
        [1913 Webster]
     6. pl. (Med.) same as caisson disease. Usually referred to
        as the bends.
        [1913 Webster]
     Bends of a ship, the thickest and strongest planks in her
        sides, more generally called wales. They have the beams,
        knees, and foothooks bolted to them. Also, the frames or
        ribs that form the ship's body from the keel to the top of
        the sides; as, the midship bend.
        [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Caisson disease \Cais"son dis*ease"\ (Med.)
     A disease frequently induced by remaining for some time in an
     atmosphere of high pressure, as in caissons, diving bells,
     etc. It is characterized by neuralgic pains and paralytic
     symptoms. It is caused by the release of bubbles of gas,
     usually nitrogen, from bodily fluids into the blood and
     tissues, when a person, having been in an environment with
     high air pressure, moves to a lower pressure environment too
     rapidly for the excess dissolved gases to be released through
     normal breathing. It may be fatal, but can be reversed or
     alleviated by returning the affected person to a high air
     pressure, and then gradually decreasing the pressure to allow
     the gases to be released from the body fluids. It is a danger
     well known to divers. It is also called the bends and
     decompression sickness. It can be prevented in divers by a
     slow return to normal pressure, or by using a breathing
     mixture of oxygen combined with a gas having low solubility
     in water, such as helium.
     [Webster 1913 Suppl. +PJC]

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