Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a an exciting new treatment for people who suffer from diabetic and peripheral neuropathies . Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, referred to as HBOT, has actually has been used in the medical field for many years to treat a variety of conditions including carbon monoxide poisoning, crush injuries “the bends” experienced by divers, burns and diabetic wound complications such as gangrene. Its application for treating neuropathies is relatively new and is not considered a “standard treatment” for neuropathy. In medical speak it is considered an “off-label treatment.” So here is the low-down on HBOT as it pertains to treating neuropathies:
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy and how doe s it work in treating neuropathy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is breathing oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure. This allows red blood cells to carry more oxygen to all parts of the body. As a result HBOT has the following beneficial effects:
- Enhanced wound healing
- Stimulates the growth of new blood vessels
- Increased circulation
- Repair of damaged tissue
Since diabetic and other peripheral neuropathies are due to damage to the nerves, especially in the feet, it is postulated that HBOT may be effective in treating neuropathy
There are two types of HBOT-Hard chamber and soft chamber-what is the difference?
Hard oxygen chambers as the name suggests, is made out of a hard metal-usually steel. With these chambers the patient is breathing 100% oxygen under pressure. It is more intense therapy requiring more time to equalize pressures. Hard chambers are used to treat more serious-life threatening conditions as those listed above. These chambers are usually located at hospitals, outpatient centers or specific hyperbaric centers.
Soft chamber oxygen chambers are less invasive. Treating patients with this type of chamber is called mild hyperbaric therapy. It is estimated that the pressure in a soft chamber is equivalent to diving under water to about 12 feet. Soft chambers are portable and can be placed in any treatment facility-including doctor’s offices. In fact at the Foot Pain Center, we are currently using mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Will HBOT cure my neuropathy?
HBOT will not cure neuropathy. In most cases peripheral nerve damage is not reversible. The goal of HBOT is to help restore sensation and to decrease the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of neuropathy-pain, burning, tingling, shooting pains and “pins and needles” sensations. Treatments are designed to reduce symptoms. From a practical point it may be necessary To undergo a series of treatments which may relieve symptoms. Periodic treatments may be necessary to maintain and restore the positive effects of HBOT.
Source : Foot Pain Center Blog