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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Offers Hope For Fibromyalgia Patients

hyperbaric oxygen therapy and fibromyalgia
Image credit: Pain Doctor

Researchers in a clinical trial at Rice University in Houston, Texas, along with two Israeli research institutes, have determined that after two months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the condition of every one of 48 female participants diagnosed with fibromyalgia who completed the program improved.

Brain scans of the women before and after treatment corroborated the theory that abnormal responses in pain-related areas of the brain may be responsible for the syndrome, and that HBOT can actually catalyze healing of the malfunctioning areas of the brain.

Patients were randomly assigned to treated and crossover groups: The treated group cohort were evaluated at before and after receiving Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Patients in the crossover-control group were evaluated three times: at baseline, after a control period of no treatment, and after HBOT. Evaluations consisted of physical examination, including a tender point count and pain threshold testing, extensive evaluation of quality of life, and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging for evaluation of brain activity.

The HBOT protocol involved 40 sessions, lasting 90 minutes each over five days a week intervals in 100 percent oxygen at 2.0 ATA inside a hyperbaric chamber.

Sixty female patients were originally enrolled between the ages of 21-67 years and who had been diagnosed with FMS at least two years earlier. The PLOS One article coauthors report that HBOT led to significant amelioration of all FMS symptoms in both trial groups, with significant improvement in life quality.

Those in the crossover-control group experienced no improvement in their conditions until, after the two-month control, they were given the same Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatment as the first group and experienced the same relief, according to the researchers who note that SPECT imaging analysis revealed rectification of abnormal brain activity in the subjects, decrease of hyperactivity mainly in the posterior region and elevation of reduced activity mainly in frontal areas.

No improvement in any of the parameters was observed following the control period.

The researchers noted the successful treatment enabled patients to drastically reduce or even eliminate their use of pain medications. The intake of the drugs eased the pain but did not reverse the condition, while HBOT did reverse the condition, the researchers wrote, concluding that their study provides evidence that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can improve symptoms and life quality for FMS patients, and moreover it shows that HBOT can induce neuroplasticity and significantly rectify abnormal brain activity in pain related areas of FMS patients.

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