How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) help with Neuropathy (peripheral and lower extremities)?
Emerging research confirms that neuropathy is primarily caused by a lack of oxygen. This can be the result of poor blood circulation, pinching of sciatic nerve or its local blood supply, too much glucose in the blood, or toxic chemicals (prescription drugs, pesticides, cleaning solvents or substance abuse) creating excessive free radicals that negate available oxygen. When the nerve cell is deprived of oxygen it contracts, making itself smaller to conserve oxygen and this enlarges the gap (synaptic junction) between nerve cells. Nerve cells do not come into contact with one another. A nerve impulse must jump across this gap. When the gap gets too big, the electrical nerve impulse cannot make the transition across this gap, and nerve function is impaired.
Of the estimated 20 million people in the United States with diabetes, 3 million struggle with DPN – and even patients with pre-diabetes and impaired glucose (blood sugar) tolerance may have symptoms. The older the person is, the longer he or she has had diabetes, and the less-controlled the disease, the greater chance of feeling pain because of damaged nerves.
Fifty percent of patients with long-standing diabetes have numbness, burning, electrical sensations, stabbing, or shooting pain in their feet or legs—and it’s usually worse at night. While the pain is uncomfortable, the lack of sensation can have even worse consequences. If a person’s shoes fit improperly, are too tight, have rough spots inside, or rub when the person walks, the blisters, abrasions or cuts may not be felt. Because circulation is not as good as it is for people without diabetes, these wounds can become infected and very difficult to heal.
When prescription pain medications are administered, the primary goal is to numb the nerve roots at the level of the spine. In this way, the pain signals cannot reach the brain thus these dysfunctional nerve signals are not perceived as pain. In time the body becomes resilient to medications, requiring periodic dosage increases. This leads to numbness in the extremities, fuzzy thinking and loss of perception of knowing where your feet are in time and space. These symptoms can mimic Alzheimer’s and compound your medical situation.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been known to be effective in controlling and reversing the pain and dysfunction associated with diabetic and non-diabetic neuropathies of the arms, hands, legs and feet. Hyperbaric oxygen promotes healthy nerve function through healing instead of pain cover-up;
- Reduces swelling, increases energy production for nerve restoration
- Eliminates inflammation, allowing healing to occur
- Improves blood cell health, thus improving oxygen carrying and delivery efficiency
- Greatly enhances white cell killing of unfriendly bacteria and some fungi at high oxygen pressures
- Facilitates elimination of bone infections
- Reduces the number of operations and deaths associated with poor circulation related tissue infections
- Extremely important is its stimulation of new capillary and vessel growth, promoting nerve health
- Finally, it promotes better tissue survival and healing of damaged tissue