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Evidence for the Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Published on March 27th, 2018 by Dr. Meghan Haggarty and Dr. Jennifer Nardella

Fibromyalgia affects more than 1 million people in Canada. It mainly affects women between the ages of 20 and 50. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease with many suspected contributing factors, however there is no known underlying cause. Patients with fibromyalgia experience debilitating pain in multiple areas of their body. It is also commonly associated with extreme fatigue. Many times fibromyalgia symptoms will start after periods of high stress, infection or traumatic events such as a car accident.

Although there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, there are many treatments that can help to significantly reduce a patient’s symptoms and manage their pain. Moderate exercise and a good sleep routine have been shown to be beneficial in fibromyalgia patients. A treatment the naturopaths at the Nardella Clinic in Calgary have had success with for treating fibromyalgia is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the delivery of 100% oxygen and pressures above 1.4 ATA which increases oxygen delivery to areas such as the brain and muscles.

A recent study done by Dr. Efrati at Rice University in Israel measured the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on fibromyalgia patients. Every one of the 48 women who completed the trial improved significantly from the treatment. Patients were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy 5 days per week for a total of 40 treatments. After hyperbaric oxygen treatment patients were able to drastically reduce or discontinue their pain medications. Brain imaging was also done that showed changes in the area of the brain responsible for pain perception after the hyperbaric treatments.  The change in the brain indicates that unlike other therapies that manage the symptoms of the disease, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has the ability to treat the underlying brain pathology that is causing the pain.

To read the full study click here.

Hyperbaric oxygen is one tool that our naturopathic doctors utilize to help fibromyalgia patients recover. To learn more about this treatment and other naturopathic therapies schedule a naturopathic consultation. Our naturopathic doctors have many years of experience successfully treating fibromyalgia using a comprehensive, individualized approach to chronic disease.

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