What Is Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, referred to as HBOT or oxygen therapy, is best known for treating decompression sickness in scuba divers. Its importance in the medical world is much deeper, as the FDA has approved this type of therapy for treatment of a laundry list of health problems, including radiation treatment for cancer treatments, serious infections, serious burns and diabetic wounds.
How Does it Work?
Patients who undergo oxygen therapy either sit in a hyperbaric room or a one-person hyperbaric clear, plastic tube, depending upon the illness that is being treated.
In either situation, the air pressure in the chamber is increased two or three times. The increase in air pressure allows the lungs to gather more oxygen than normal, subsequently allowing the blood to carry this extra oxygen throughout the body. The increase in oxygen helps to fight bacteria and stimulates the release of growth factors and stem cells, substances that help to promote healing.
Oxygen therapy has also been found to encourage neuroplasticity and repair chronically impaired brain functions, which can be found to be the cause of chronic pain.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an outpatient treatment with no hospitalization required. Oxygen therapy should not cause any major discomfort, but there may be a temporary feeling of fullness in the ears, similar to how one might feel on an airplane or at a high elevation.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: A Fibromyalgia Case Study
A team of researchers, including the Assaf HaRofeh Medical Center and Tel Aviv University in Israel, explored the treatment of pains related to fibromyalgia with oxygen therapy.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic musculoskeletal pain that is extremely difficult to diagnose. t can include intense pain in response to pressure, headaches, fatigue and poor sleep quality, and even emotional responses like anxiety, depression, and/or mood alterations. It can degrade quality of life immensely, but is difficult to treat as it is often misdiagnosed and no single cause of the pain has been traced.
However, fibromyalgia is often triggered by trauma to the head, neurological infection, and severe emotional distress.
The trial conducted included 60 subjects (women are affected by fibromyalgia nine times more than men) who were diagnosed with fibromyalgia at least two years prior to the study. The experimental group underwent two months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, inhaling pure oxygen at two times the atmospheric pressure. They were evaluated in terms of their pain, tenderness, and quality of life; in addition, their brains were assessed with special imaging.
Not only were 70 percent of participants able to recover from their symptoms, either lowering or completely removing pain medication use, but also the medical health professionals completing the study were able to map the malfunction brain regions thought to be associated with fibromyalgia.
The results of the study are encouraging and more thorough studies should be pursued. However, there were some discrepancies in that those patients whose fibromyalgia was triggered by traumatic brain injury found complete resolution, while those whose fibromyalgia had other triggers required more, periodic treatment.
Always consult with a health care professional with any chronic pain issues before attempting to pursue your own treatment courses. If you suffer from chronic pain, the Pain Relief Center can help. Contact us today and see how we can put an end to your physical ailments.