The Bends is the popular name for decompression sickness, an illness resulting in a sudden reduction in atmospheric pressure that causes bubbles of nitrogen to form in an individual's bloodstream. Symptoms of the Bends are extremely uncomfortable and include difficulty breathing and severe muscle and joint pain. It is a common ailment for divers and was once a problem that spacefarers had to be careful of as well.
Even in more advanced technological eras, the Bends was something that spacefarers were concerned about. Doctor Leonard McCoy believed Captain James T. Kirk had a case of the Bends as a result of tests conducted on the captain by the Vians. Centuries later, Vila Restal was concerned that the Liberator's sudden passage through the magnetic barrier of Horizon had given him the Bends.
The Bends is derived from real life as well as Star Trek and Blake's 7.