Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a therapy that has, for many years, been offered to people suffering a variety of medical conditions. However, only more recently has it been offered as a pain relief therapy to people suffering from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
With HBOT, the patient enters a small chamber where they breathe 100 per cent oxygen at higher than normal atmospheric pressure. This compares to the usual air that we breathe, which contains about 21 per cent oxygen.
HBOT works by supersaturating body tissues that have been starved of oxygen as a result of swelling caused by the CRPS. HBOT also causes a modest constriction in vessels which reduces the swelling (oedema) caused by the CRPS.
As with other therapies, results have been variable, with some people reporting either no, or very modest (and short term), improvement in levels of pain. However, a number have reported significant, long term pain relief.
Some people suffering from CRPS have reported a degree of scepticism and a reluctance to refer them for HBOT, among those treating them. The other practical difficulty is that there are still relatively few treatment centres in the UK.