Treating fibromyalgia is a complex process, usually involving a mixture of modern medication and traditional healing, in combination with maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular sleep patterns, daily exercise and a balanced diet. Due to the unpredictable behaviours in fibromyalgia, including the disease’s wide spectrum of symptoms and coexisting conditions, coping and treatment methods vastly vary amongst patients. And considering, there’s not one universal treatment regimen for fibromyalgia sufferers to incorporate to ease their symptoms, finding the right remedy is challenging.
New studies and emerging research are consistently being released to help physicians better understand and treat fibromyalgia. In this blog post we review Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy, best known for treating ‘the bends’ or decompression sickness (DCS) in scuba divers, recently tied to it’s aiding abilities for a whole host of conditions from cancers to fibromyalgia.
Continue reading, as we uncover facts surrounding this treatment method that fibromyalgia patients are petitioning to have available on the NHS.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) is the process of heightening a patient’s oxygen levels, through delivering pure oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressures in an inclosed chamber.
How Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy works
HBOT is a non-invasive and painless treatment, which many patients report to be relaxing. Patients are treated by a trained operator, responsible for administering the barochamber, in a secure and comfortable chamber. In certain circumstances the attendant will accompany clients into the chamber. The treatment session is conducted in the following three phases:
- Compression: There will be some noise, as the pressure increases, once the door is closed. The client will start to feel warmer and a fullness sensation in their ears, similar to the feeling of rising altitude in an airplane. Clients are taught how to ‘equalise’ their ears throughout treatment to avoid discomfort as the camber ‘descends’.
- Treatment: As the pressure reaches the prescribed level, the client is asked to place a mask over their head and breathe in the oxygen. The mask can be removed occasionally and the chamber can be decompressed at any time, if necessary. Depending on the chamber, the patient may be able to rest, sleep, read or watch television during the session.
- Decompression: The administrator will advise the patient their session is complete and start to slowly lower their pressure, at a rate that is comfortable.
Will Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy aid fibromyalgia?
An increase in oxygen flow stimulates and restores function to damaged cells and organs, including those of the liver and brain. The results of a clinical trial, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Diminish Fibromyalgia Syndrome, published last year saw positive results in all participants. The study involved 60, randomly selected, female patients, aged 21-67 years old, that have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia for at least 2 years. A dozen left the trial for various reasons, and the remaining 48 patients were split into two study groups. The first group immediately received 40 HBOT treatments, five days a week, over two months. The 90-minute treatments exposed patients to pure oxygen at two times the atmospheric pressure. Whereas, the second group were subject to a two-month control period prior to treatment. They were examined before and after the control period and saw no improvements. Then, they were given the same HBOT treatment as the first group and experienced the same relief. One of the study’s lead researchers, Shai Efrati, provided these concluding comments:
“The results are of significant importance since, unlike the current treatments offered for fibromyalgia patients, HBOT is not aiming for just symptomatic improvement,” he said. “HBOT is aiming for the actual cause — the brain pathology responsible for the syndrome. It means that brain repair, including even neuronal regeneration, is possible even for chronic, long-lasting pain syndromes, and we can and should aim for that in any future treatment development.”
- For additional information on HBOT, visit the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Trust website, here: https://www.hyperbaricoxygentherapy.org.uk/.
- There’s a petition circulating in the UK, currently with 7, 291 signatures, urging the government to get HBOT on the NHS for fibromyalgia sufferers. If this is something you believe in click this link to sign the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/129232
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.