Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that is related to actual or potential tissue damage. According to its physiopathology, the pain is divided into nociceptive, neuropathic and psychogenic and according to the duration in acute and chronic.
Experimental investigations have shown that painful sensation occurs locally by activation of nociceptors, and not by overstimulation of other types of receptors. There are also specific sensory channels for different pain modalities. However, pain can be produced by the activation of central nociceptive pathways without the involvement of peripheral nociceptors, as in central pain.
In Hyperbaric Oxygenation Treatment (HBOT) the whole body is subjected to an atmospheric pressure higher than 1.4 absolute atmospheres (ATM) and the patient breathes 100% oxygen. It is an adjunct treatment for several pathologies. It has been shown to be effective in elevating tissue oxygenation, reducing edema, promoting tissue perfusion, reducing mediators of ischemia-reperfusion injury and for severe inflammatory processes.
Because hyperbaric oxygenation was shown to reduce the inflammatory mediators involved in the genesis of pain, in 2012 it was conducted a prospective consecutive study on its analgesic effects in patients treated at the Hyperbaric Medicine Service of Hospital Angeles del Pedregal, Mexico.
Sixty patients (40 men and 20 women) with ages between 7 and 78 years were studied. The conditions for the indication of the hyperbaric oxygenation treatment were diverse. The analogous visual pain scale (EVA) was used to assess the patients’ algid state and post-treatment analgesic effects.
Before hyperbaric treatment, 60% of patients (36) reported an EVA rating of pain 7-10, 20% of patients (12) presented EVA of 5-7, 15% of patients (9) reported an EVA of 5 and 5% of patients (3) reported an EVA less than 5.
After treatment with hyperbaric oxygenation, a significant reduction in pain was obtained. The results were: EVA of 0-1 in 75% of the patients (45) and 20% with EVA of 2 (12), while 5% (3) reported no improvement.
HBOT has been shown to reduce the mediators of inflammation, including those involved in the genesis of pain. This significant decrease in inflammatory mediators is related to the statistically significant reduction in pain of patients evaluated by EVA.
Breathing oxygen under pressure generates a hyperoxygenation effect through Henry’s law. It increases the partial pressure of oxygen in the blood plasma, which triggers several secondary mechanisms, such as the reduction of the mediators of the ischemia lesion and the inflammatory processes.
Armin III Korrodi Arroyo, Ernesto Cuauhtémoc Sánchez Rodríguez, Juan Alfonso Fung Arroyo, Óscar Antonio Abreu Ramos, Guillermo León Merino, María Eugenia Gamboa Barragán, Yuriria Gudiño Celis, Analgesic effect of hyperbaric oxygenation (OHB), 2012.
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