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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a result of damage to the peripheral nerves: autonomic, motor and sensory nerves. Affected autonomic nerves manifest as sweating, changes in the heart rate and blood pressure. Motor neuropathy causes weakness of the hands and feet. Sensory deficits exhibit as tingling, pain and numbness. Causes of neuropathy can be due to trauma, injury, metabolic conditions, exposure to drugs and toxins, vitamin deficiencies, cancers, and infections. Most cases of neuropathies arise as a complication of diabetes. While neuropathy cannot be satisfactorily treated, the underlying causes can be targeted. 

As underlying conditions are being addressed, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can serve as an adjunctive treatment to assist in the resolution of symptoms. High concentration of oxygen counteracts the swelling and inflammation of the nerve jump starting the healing process. In diabetic autonomic neuropathy, nerve fibers degenerate and blood vessels supplying them become grossly impaired (microangiopathy). Hyperbaric oxygen penetrates deep in the tissue and initiates microvascular repair further initiating nerve regeneration, subsequently alleviating pain, numbness and weakness.

Benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) in Neuropathy

  • Hyperbaric oxygen promotes revascularization. As new capillaries are formed, blood supply to the affected area increases which brings about decrease in swelling and inflammation.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen enhances nerve regeneration. Nerve repair is initiated following improved blood supply. The formation of new nerve fibers reverses the neuropathy.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen relieves neuropathic pain for an extended amount of time. Investigations on nerve functionality after hyperbaric oxygen treatment revealed improvement of cold sensation and hypesthesia.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen stimulates wound healing. Studies have shown that hyperbaric oxygen increases the effective release and differentiation of stem cells which help in rebuilding and regrowth of tissues.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen penetrates deep in to the tissues and places which are inaccessible to red blood cells. Hyperbaric oxygen dissolves into the plasma, infusing bodily fluids like the lymphatic and cerebrospinal fluid with oxygen.

Further reading:
  1. Isguzar M, Top C, Oncul O, Cavuslu S, Elbuken E, Saracodu M, Danacy M; The Efficacy of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for the Treatment of Diabletic Autonomic Neuropathy; The Internet Journal of Neurology. 2001 Vol 1-2.
  2. Choi SJ, Lee JY, Lee KH, Son I, Park SH, Shin HT, Lee HK, Cho SH; Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy on Diabetic Neuropathy; Undersea Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc Joint Annual Scientific Meeting with the International Congress fir Hyperbaric Medicine and the European Undersea Biomedical Society 11-18 August 1990.
  3. Thompson C, Uhelski M, Wilson J, Fuchs P; Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Decrease Pain in Two Nerve Injury Models; 2010. Neuroscience Research, 66 (2010) 279-283.
  4. Sanchez, C; Hyperbaric oxygenation in peripheral nerve repair and regeneration;2007. Neurological Research, Vol 29, March, 184-198.

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 Information contained on this site is intended for general consumer understanding and education. It should not be used as a substitute for any medical professional opinion, advice or prescribed medication nor should it serve as diagnosis or treatment of health problems.