Study Shows HBOT as Effective Treatment for Fibromyalgia Syndrome


Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) is a musculoskeletal disorder causing fatigue and pain. The disorder involves the body’s soft fibrous tissues like tendons, ligaments and muscles. The exact cause behind FMS is still unknown, however, several triggering events are there, which may cause the disorder’s onset. Examples of such triggering events are bacterial or viral infections, a vehicle accident, or occurrence of some other disorder like hypothyroidism, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Such events perhaps do not cause fibromyalgia syndrome, however, if an underlying abnormality is present already, the triggering events may awaken them.

A Cause behind Symptoms of Fibromyalgia:

If not all, but most symptoms of fibromyalgia are the result of deprivation of oxygen at cellular level. Dr. Majid Alia from New Jersey, expert on fibromyalgia and medical doctor, states that deprivation of oxygen is the result of dysfunctional oxygen metabolism that is caused by cumulative oxidative stress, which is caused due to synthetic chemicals, sugar overload, antibiotic abuse, undiagnosed allergies, anger, and other factors. He refers to his theory as ODD, an abbreviation for Oxydative-Dysoxygenative Dysfunction. This theory is anchored deeply in the cell as well as in the failure of enzymes responsible for metabolism of oxygen.

HBOT for Treatment of Fibromyalgia Syndrome:

Although the UHMS Committee has not approved the use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for the treatment of FMS, however, the worldwide clinical studies report that HBOT is beneficial for the disorder’s treatment. Benefits are not visible in case of “mild hyperbaric” exposures, in which the treatment pressure is low, within 1.2 – 1.4 atm. However, an increased partial oxygen of greater than 2 atm, in the tissue, results in beneficial effects in heightening the oxygenation in all tissues, thereby reducing oxygen debt and hypoxia. Improvement in oxygen metabolism leads to the stimulation of vascularization (synthesis of collagen and fibroblast proliferation). This improves elimination of toxins and microcirculation, balances healthy oxygen metabolism, and lowers pain and inflammation. Improvement in glucose and oxygen metabolism also results in reduced physical and mental stress.

Study to Evaluate HBOT’s Effect on FMS:

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) carried out a randomized controlled study for evaluating HBOT’s effect on Fibromyalgia Syndrome (Control group: n = 24; HBOT group: n = 26). Pain threshold and tender points were noted prior to and after the 1st and 15th HBOT sessions. The scoring of pain was also done on a VAS (Visual Analogue Scale).

After the 1st and 15th sessions of the therapy, a significant decrease was found in the VAS scores and tender points, and a considerable increase was seen in the pain threshold, in case of the HBOT group. Moreover, after the 1st therapy session, a considerable difference was there between the control group and the HBOT group for all parameters, excluding the VAS scores. So, it can be concluded that HBOT is effective and beneficial in treatment and management of FMS.

Advantages of using HBOT in FMS:

  • Increased supply of oxygen to all tissues in the body, leading to curing of hypoxia

  • Improved metabolism of oxygen, and elimination of metabolic products along with other toxins

  • Reduced swelling and inflammation

  • Improved heart functioning, digestive system functioning and autonomic functions of nervous system

  • Improved circulation of lymph and blood

  • Improved range of motion of joints and enhanced flexibility

  • Decreased neurological deficit (muscle weakness, numbness and tingling)

  • Relieved pain and muscle spasm

  • Decreased muscle fatigue and enhanced capacity of exercise

  • Decreased physical and mental stress

  • Improvement in immune system response

So, the study here shows that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can be a suitable treatment option for Fibromyalgia Syndrome. The therapy needs to be studied further to find out how it helps in FMS.

Chloe Paltrow
Chloe Paltrow, a medical assistant. She has shared her knowledge in various websites and blogs like PsychCentral, Collective Evolution and Pick The Brain. Currently, she is studying how brain injury and brain disorders can be treated with hyperbaric chambers.