Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy’s Role in Fibromyalgia Treatment

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In clinical practice, one of the most prevalent complaints is chronic pain. When pain symptoms persist for longer than three months, they are classified as chronic.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has demonstrated positive results in the treatment of persistent pain disorders, including cluster headaches. Furthermore, idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia, fibromyalgia, migraines, and complicated regional pain syndrome have all been proven to benefit from HBOT. The process involves breathing 100% oxygen in a pressurized hyperbaric, or HBOT chamber with pressures greater than 1 atmosphere absolute (ATA).

Our goal in this article is to provide an overview of the mechanisms underlying HBOT as well as its respective benefits in reducing pain when used as an adjunct therapy in the management of chronic pain..

Studies, HBOT, and Fibromyalgia

The effects of HBOT on fibromyalgia patients are examined in a 2015 study. For more than two years, 48 women with fibromyalgia are the subject of this study. The volunteers were split up into two groups by the researchers. There were two treatment groups: the primary group and the crossover group. The treatment group underwent 40 sessions of HBOT over the course of two months. There was no further treatment given to the patients. After two months of no therapy, the crossover group underwent forty HBOT with treatments in a two-month period. Each patient noted a notable decrease in pressure sites and a major improvement in discomfort. Every patient acknowledged that their quality of life had significantly improved.

However, the SPECT pictures in this investigation yielded the most important results. Researchers discovered that somatosensory cortex activity is higher in fibro patients and lower in frontal, cingulate, medial temporal, and cerebellar cortices. Following HBOT, brain activity returned to a relatively normal level as evidenced by SPECT scans, which indicated decreased activity in the posterior brain and increased activity in the frontal lobes. In summary, HBOT helped these fibro patients regain normal brain function.

What is Fibromyalgia?

The main symptom of fibromyalgia is diffuse musculoskeletal pain. Trigger points were the primary diagnostic criteria for a very long period. The body has nine pairs of spots that hurt extremely when pressure is applied to them. Eleven of these criteria were required to acquire a diagnosis; nonetheless, a fresh perspective on the ailment and the realization that pain is not always constant, That’s why positive trigger points are no longer necessary for a diagnosis. To diagnose fibro, doctors are now more concerned with the symptoms. In addition to looking for further symptoms and ruling out any other potential underlying medical disorders, they search for broad pain that has persisted for more than three months. Although fibro may afflict men, women, and children equally, between 75 and 90 percent of cases involve women.

Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Many people with fibromyalgia experience severe, widespread, continuous pain. Other symptoms do happen, though. These additional symptoms consist of:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Disruptions to sleep
  • Cognitive, memory, and focus problems caused by fibrofog
  • Severe headaches
  • Hands and feet tingling
  • Jaw pain that is frequently connected to TMJ, or temporomandibular joint syndrome
  • Stomach problems, such as IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Morning rigidity
  • Uncomfortable menstrual cycles

Treatment for Fibromyalgia Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

HBOT produces hyperoxia, which increases the oxygen diffusion gradient between tissues and cells. This raises plasma dissolved oxygen to a level above what many tissues’ physiological requirements are at rest. By encouraging epithelialization and the oxygen-dependent collagen matrix formations required for angiogenesis, HBOT also hastens the healing of wounds. Moreover, HBOT protects cells against pathologic vasoconstriction and cellular damage during reperfusion by blocking leukocyte adhesion, which is a factor in the production of free radicals and proteases. In hypoxic tissues, HBOT also lessens edema, increases neutrophil oxygen-dependent microbial killing, and prevents lipid peroxidation.

HBOT is a viable therapeutic option for FM patients due to its effectiveness in increasing oxygen supply, inhibiting pain, producing an anti-inflammatory response, and understanding the processes underlying these effects, despite certain safety concerns.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Used in a Clinical Setting for Fibromyalgia

Since the early 1800s, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in medicine. It has been primarily utilized for many years as a treatment for divers’ decompression thickness. However, as a clinically used method for treating various medical disorders, it has been gaining traction. Although there are no large-scale clinical trials to support hyperbaric oxygen therapy for fibromyalgia, the possibility is intriguing yet contentious because of conflicting data currently available regarding whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy should be used as a primary treatment on its own or as an adjuvant.

Promising outcomes are been found in clinical trials looking into the use of hyperbaric oxygen for fibromyalgia. A link between brain alterations and therapy response has been used to demonstrate a beneficial correlation between the use of hyperbaric oxygen and the alleviation of fibromyalgia symptoms. A higher incidence of fibromyalgia in the context of traumatic brain injury has been documented, adding credence to the idea that fibromyalgia is linked to abnormal brain activity. In contrast, it has been seen that this therapy is effective in treating other complicated pain syndromes, such as migraines, cluster headaches, and trigeminal neuralgia. This refutes the hypothesis that neurologic dysfunction is caused by altered brain activity rather than peripheral nerve inflammation.

It is debatable whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy should be utilized as the only therapeutic intervention or as an adjuvant therapy in addition to the conventional treatments that are regularly administered to fibromyalgia patients. Patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia get information on the prognosis of their condition, the significance of maintaining proper sleep hygiene, and how their condition may be associated with other mental health conditions. Patients typically begin an exercise program in addition to receiving patient education, and occasionally they begin low-dose pharmaceutical treatment. Increased activity in the frontal, parietal, temporal, and cerebellar lobes and decreased activity in the posterior brain lobes have been linked to hyperbaric therapy. HBOT has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces sensitivity to painful stimuli, which, in addition to its ability to alter brain activity, reduces the need for painkillers. These effects are expected given that fibromyalgia has been linked to both impaired brain function and increased sensitivity to pain stimuli.

Conclusion

HBOT has been shown to have a promising function in the therapy of chronic pain. This function is mediated by many mechanisms that aim to reduce pain, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction—these factors are the foundation of the pathophysiology of chronic pain disorders, particularly fibromyalgia. In spite of such

Despite the positive outcomes, oxidative damage from HBOT raises safety questions. The effectiveness, safety, risk/benefit ratio, and safety of HBOT in the treatment of FM and other chronic pain diseases should be further investigated in order to determine the best course of action.