Suddenly, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber is getting a lot of attention, from Israel to the NFL.
Media reports recently are indicating studies that show some promise using hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the fight against fibromyalgia.
Also, in a much ballyhooed story this week on ESPN.COM, former NFL great Joe Namath has been touting its impact for years in helping folks who have had brain trauma—including NFL football players.
Regarding fibromyalgia, researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel have been treating women with fibromyalgia with hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
They are reporting some success. The research found that women with fibromyalgia were able to drastically reduce, or even eliminate, their use of pain medication following hyperbaric oxygen treatment.
The TAU researchers believe they have also identified the primary factor causing fibromyalgia: the disruption of the brain mechanism for processing pain.
“As a physician, the most important finding for me is that 70 percent of the patients could recover from their fibromyalgia symptoms,” said Dr. Shai Efrati of TAU’s Sagol School of Neuroscience. “The most exciting finding for the world of research, however, is that we were able to map the malfunctioning brain regions responsible for the syndrome.”
The clinical trial exposed women to two months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It found significant changes in the brain activity and symptoms of 70 percent of participants. 60 women who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia at least two years earlier were in the trial. .
The results are of significant importance,” Dr. Efrati said. “Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are designed to address the actual cause of fibromyalgia—the brain pathology responsible for the syndrome. It means that brain repair, including neuronal regeneration, is possible even for chronic, long-lasting pain syndromes, and we can and should aim for that in any future treatment development.”
The researchers did find some discrepancies among patients. When fibromyalgia was triggered by a traumatic brain injury, for example, they witnessed a complete resolution without any need for further treatment. But when the trigger was attributed to other causes, such as fever-related diseases, patients required periodic maintenance therapy.
The Mayo Clinic describes hyperbaric oxygen therapy as “breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a well-established treatment for decompression sickness, a hazard of scuba diving. Other conditions treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy include serious infections, bubbles of air in your blood vessels, and wounds that won’t heal as a result of diabetes or radiation injury.”
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be expensive, and it is not currently approved for fibromyalgia treatment by the FDA. Fibromyalgia affects at least 5 million Americans, more women than men. It is characterized by widespread pain, abnormal pain processing, sleep disturbance, fatigue and often psychological distress.
Have you tried the therapy for chronic pain?
Let us know what your experience was like.
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