A recent study was undertaken on women with fibromyalgia. They were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is usually used in those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning or the bends in scuba divers. The women showed a reasonable degree of pain relief after receiving this form of treatment.
What Is Oxygen Chamber Therapy?
Oxygen chamber therapy is also referred to as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It involves sitting or lying in a chamber with high levels of oxygen under higher pressures than the normal oxygen found in the atmosphere. It causes an influx of oxygen into your system that allows for greater numbers of hemoglobin molecules to contain oxygen and more oxygen in the tissues.
Results Of The Study
The results of the study were very encouraging. Women were treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for at least two months. They had brain scans before and after the treatments. Areas of the brain that were found to be damaged before the therapy were found to be normal after the therapy. This included the areas of the brain associated with the perception of pain.
At the end of the therapy, 70 percent of the women no longer fit the criteria of having fibromyalgia, according to the researchers.
The combination of physical improvements and changes in the brain were felt to be significant and indicated that hyperbaric oxygen therapy likely played a role in the improvement these patients experienced.
What Is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome affecting woman at a rate of 9:1 when compared to men. It is characterized by the existence of widespread pain, fatigue, poor sleep, cognitive changes, and an exaggerated response to touching tender points on the skin.
Because there is no known etiology behind fibromyalgia, it is difficult to identify. There may be environmental factors, physical factors, or emotional factors that play into getting the various symptoms. Currently, fibromyalgia is treated with various kinds of treatment, including drug therapy, changes in lifestyle, and psychotherapy.
Details Of The Study
In the study, out of Tel Aviv, 48 women were studied who carried the diagnosis of fibromyalgia with in the last two years or more. Half of the women received forty treatments with hyperbaric oxygen, five times weekly, over a two-month period of time.
The patients were allowed to breathe in 100 percent oxygen that had been pressurized to twice the pressure that exists in our atmosphere. This type of therapy increases the amount of oxygen flowing to the tissues of the body, allowing for an increase in healing.
The therapy was given in cylinder-shaped chambers. This type of therapy has been approved by the US FDA to treat fourteen separate conditions, including diabetic wounds, carbon monoxide poisoning, and decompression sickness, usually seen in scuba divers.
Fibromyalgia is not on the list of approved conditions for fibromyalgia, which makes it an off-label use of the treatment. It also means that insurance companies might not pay for this type of treatment for fibromyalgia and the patient may have to pay for the treatment himself or herself.
After the two months were over, those who did not receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy were allowed to have the treatment. The same improvement in brain scans and physical findings were observed in this second treatment group. Many patients were able to reduce to a significant degree the amount of medications they took for the relief of fibromyalgia.
US physicians and researchers are optimistic about the results of the study, although further testing and research definitely needs to be done, as this was a small study. Chronic fibromyalgia patients suffer from debilitating pain for which there is few treatment therapies that really work. Most patients experience pain all day long.
Until the hyperbaric oxygen, therapy becomes better studied and is FDA-approved for the management of fibromyalgia, your health insurance and Medicare likely will not pay for the drug. The total cost of receiving 30-60 treatments with hyperbaric oxygen therapy runs greater than $10,000 dollars and even more.
Patients who receive CPAP, which is continuous positive airway pressure, is used to treat sleep apnea. In those who have fibromyalgia and sleep apnea treated with this therapy show an improvement in their symptoms of fibromyalgia. This, like hyperbaric oxygen therapy, can result in an improvement in their flow of oxygen to body tissues, including the brain.