Fibromyalgia and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Encouraging Results in Small Study

Results of a small study published in the June edition of the journal PLOS ONE found that women with fibromyalgia experienced relief from pain and other symptoms after undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Brain scans of the patients showed that 2 months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, most often associated with treating “the bends” in scuba divers, may have also repaired abnormal brain activity in pain-related areas of the brain, the researchers said. Lead study author Shai Efrati, MD, director of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research in Tel Aviv, Israel, stated “70% of the patients could not be categorized as suffering from fibromyalgia at the end of the treatment.”

According to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), fibromyalgia affects 9 times more women than men. Symptoms include chronic widespread pain, intense pain in response to pressure on certain body parts, fatigue, and poor sleep. The condition is poorly understood and has not been traced to a single cause. Physical or emotional factors may trigger symptoms, the ACR says. Fibromyalgia is typically treated with a combination of therapies, including drugs, lifestyle changes, and cognitive behavioral therapy. In this study, 48 women who had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia at least 2 years earlier were placed in 2 groups. Half underwent 40 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments over 2 months. The treatments were given 5 times a week in sessions of 90 minutes each. During the treatment, patients breathed 100% oxygen pressurized to twice the normal air pressure. The therapy is thought to increase oxygen flow to body tissues, improving healing. Fibromyalgia is not currently one of the FDA-approved conditions for hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which continues to be tested for this and other “off-label” conditions.

To learn more about brain abnormalities in fibromyalgia, click here.

To read about fibromyalgia and hypersensitivity, click here.

Read a news story about the findings above, here.



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