Arthritis is a painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. A chronic pain disorder afflicting some 19 million Americans, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the US. The most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but arthritis comprises more than 100 other inflammatory diseases and conditions, including fibromyalgia, gout, and lupus.
The definitive causes of arthritis are unknown. In osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, the cartilage, surrounding tissue, and bone may be destroyed by physical wear, infection, or aging. In rheumatoid arthritis, a faulty immune response may cause inflammation that erodes the joint linings called synovial membranes. There is no cure for arthritis. Many people with arthritis successfully manage or improve their quality of life with physical therapy, exercise, weight control, and medications.
International studies are finding that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is markedly superior to the routine treatment of RA. In 1995, the Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress on Hyperbaric Medicine published the results of one particular study. These results indicated the following effects of hyperbaric oxygen on the disease.
The total summarized effective rate of hyperbaric oxygen in treating RA was 91.9%. The authors of the study concluded, “In the treatment we find that hyperbaric oxygen is markedly superior to the routine treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.”
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has become a standard of practice for RA in many countries. Clinical practice has proved that hyperbaric oxygen therapy has good effects on analgesia, lowering blood sedimentation rate, stabilizing immunologic function, and strengthening the body’s resistance for eliminating pathogenic factors. It is also beneficial for the repair of the diseased joints.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has actually been found to inhibit the development of the disease process. HBOT can suppress inflammation due either to immune factors or infection. Moreover, daily hyperbaric oxygen therapy suppresses the inflammatory response even if the disease is fully developed; however, the treatment of RA with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is more effective in the early stages of the disease.