They affect both men and women and some of them are fibromyalgia, arthritis, osteoarthritis, backaches, and migraines. How are they treated to improve the quality of life of those who suffer from them?
Pain can become a great impediment to carry out daily tasks. Although it is considered a symptom of different diseases, it is itself a long-term health problem and can involve not only physical but also emotional complications (depression, anxiety, and sleep problems).
Chronic pain lasts more than six months and hinders good performance at work and household chores. It can even generate problems in social relationships. The stronger the pain, the affected person will have more limitations to perform their routine activities.
Some of the most common pathologies that are associated with pain are:
- Fibromyalgia: it is a disorder characterized by pain in the muscles and bones. It usually presents with fatigue, sleep problems, lack of memory and changes in mood. The causes of this disease are not known, but it is known that there are factors that influence it, such as genetics, some infections, physical trauma or stress. Approximately 85% of people suffering from fibromyalgia are women.
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis: arthritis is the inflammation of a joint or more. Its main symptoms are pain and stiffness in the joints. In osteoarthritis, there is destruction of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the joints. Some of the risk factors for these diseases are family history, advanced age, sex (women are more likely to suffer from them), previous joint injuries and obesity.
- Migraines: it is intense pain with a feeling of throbbing in the head. It may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or noise. While the causes of migraines are unknown, there are genetic and physical factors, hormonal changes, foods, medications, and changes in the environment that are related. They can start at any age and women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines.
- Back pain: it is one of the most common reasons why people go to the doctor. They can be caused by muscle or ligament pressure when doing a poor movement, bulging or disc herniation, arthritis, scoliosis (the spine curves) or osteoporosis (fracture when the vertebrae in the spine are porous and fragile). Back pain usually occurs in the elderly, due to lack of exercise, obesity and heavy loads.
How is chronic pain treated?
Pain treatment is a complex and variable process according to the patient’s condition. It can be influenced by genetic factors, medical diagnosis, age, etc. For this reason, the therapy indicated for a patient with Fibromyalgia does not necessarily relieve the pain of a patient with migraines.
Going to the doctor is the first step to identify the causes of pain and receive the indication of a treatment that improves the quality of life. Usually, the use of analgesics or physical therapies such as acupuncture is recommended. Other methods include ozone therapy. There are currently new adjuvant treatments to reduce and eliminate pain. One of them is the Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
It is a non-invasive medical treatment. The patient enters the hyperbaric chamber and by placing a mask receives oxygen at high concentrations at a pressure higher than normal atmospheric. It is a safe treatment where the number of sessions and their duration should be indicated by a doctor.
Hyperbaric chamber treatment is indicated for pathologies that occur with pain, such as Fibromyalgia and other rheumatologic diseases, wounds that do not heal well, spinal injuries, low back pain, complex regional pain syndrome, and myofascial pain syndrome, migraines and peripheral vascular disease. However, due to its mechanism of action, it can be used to treat all pain related to inflammation.
Benefits of hyperbaric chamber therapy
- Reduces neuropathic pain and reduces the dose of analgesics
- It has an anti-inflammatory effect
- Promotes wound healing
- Decreases infections
- In cancer patients, decreases the inflammation and pain caused by radiation
Studies on the intensity of pain in patients with Fibromyalgia showed that hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves cerebral blood flow and decreases the lack of oxygen in the muscles of sensitive points. It is proven that hyperbaric oxygen manages to significantly reduce pain points in patients who are treated with respect to those who do not receive treatment. In cases with a very good response, it has been possible to reduce from 17.5 to 5 pain points (19 points are used to diagnose Fibromyalgia). The analgesic effect is sometimes achieved from the first session in a hyperbaric chamber, but it becomes more evident from session 15.
In the case of migraines, researchers compared groups of migraine patients who received hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Improvements were observed in 6 of 7 patients who decreased episodes for 6 months. Hyperbaric oxygen is applied to patients resistant to conventional therapy or to resolve acute migraines that do not respond to analgesic therapy.
For rheumatic diseases, hyperbaric chamber therapy has an analgesic effect and decreases inflammation, so it has excellent results in pathologies such as arthritis. The same goes for backaches and herniated discs with a compromise of neuropathic pain.
In conclusion, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a non-invasive tool that can be incorporated in the treatment of all the pathologies in which there is a pain, since it produces effective analgesia, reduces inflammation and regenerates damaged tissues.
- Efrati S, Golan H, Bechor Y et al. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can diminish fibromyalgia syndrome–prospective clinical trial. PloS one, 2015. 10(5).
- Yildiz, Ş, Kiralp MZ, Akin A et al. A new treatment modality for fibromyalgia syndrome: hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Journal of international medical research, 2004. 32(3): 263-267.
- Kirkwood GA. Hyperbaric Oxygen for Neuropathic Pain and Fibromyalgia. 2015. Cochrane Library
- Bennett MH, French C, Schnabel A et al. Normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment and prevention of migraine and cluster headache. The Cochrane Library, 2015.
- Barilaro G, Francesco I, Masala MD et al. The Role of hyperbaric oxygen Therapy in orthopedics and Rheumatological Diseases. IMA, 2017; 19: 429–34
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