Fibromyalgia Potentially Treated with High-Pressure Oxygen Therapy

Pharmacy Times, August 2016 Pain Awareness, Volume 82, Issue 8

A recent study has determined that the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers, in which patients are exposed to pure oxygen at higher-than-atmospheric pressures, may be able to relieve fibromyalgia pain.

A recent study has determined that the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers, in which patients are exposed to pure oxygen at higher-than-atmospheric pressures, may be able to relieve fibromyalgia pain.

The study, published in PLoS ONE, administered 40 hyperbaric oxygen treatments, each lasting 90 minutes, to 60 women who had been given a diagnosis of fibromyalgia at least 2 years earlier. Following the 2-month study period, the research team discovered significant changes in the brain activity and symptoms of 70% of participants, some of whom were able to reduce or even eliminate their use of pain medication.

“The results are of significant importance,” said study author Shai Efrati, MD, in a press release. “Hyperbaric oxygen treatments are designed to address the actual cause of fibromyalgia—the brain pathology responsible for the syndrome. It means that brain repair, including neuronal regeneration, is possible even for chronic, long-lasting pain syndromes, and we can, and should, aim for that in any future treatment development.”

The study authors acknowledged that there were some discrepancies among patients with different fibromyalgia catalysts; for example, many patients whose fibromyalgia was triggered by a traumatic brain injury experienced complete resolution without any need for further treatment, whereas patients whose fibromyalgia was triggered by causes such as fever-related diseases required periodic maintenance therapy.

The research team plans to follow up on this study by evaluating the potential effect of hyperbaric conditions on brain tissue renewal.