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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in the Management of Fibromyalgia (FM)

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder that is characterized by intense pain, mostly at various joints within the body. Some of the symptoms of the syndrome include fatigue, poor sleeping patterns, cognitive dysfunction, anxiety, and depression. The disorder, affecting nearly 10% of the world's population, is more popular amongst females. For every ten diagnoses, the disorder affects eight women and two men. Some of the preexisting conditions that predispose individuals to the condition include diabetes, infections, rheumatic disorders, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and mental distress. Some forms of treatment that have been explored to manage the condition include pharmacological solutions, physical aerobic exercises, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, e.g., symptom management, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). HBOT is preferred for its long-term benefits, minimal side effects, comprehensiveness in addressing chronic pain, and overall safety. 

Mechanism of Action

HBOT has anti-inflammatory effects that correct the abnormal brain activity and glial functioning associated with the disorder. The central nervous system is sensitized in the process, and some of its functions and those of the brain are kept at an optimal level. The mitochondrial tasks often affected by the disorder are also restored. The brain metabolism and its associated functions are boosted in the process. Both short-term and long-term memory are restored. Also, focus and consolidation of thoughts are made easier. Patients can multi-task with ease and concentrate for longer spans as well. The overall speed of processing information is boosted as well. 

HBOT also boosts brain activity in the frontal and parietal regions, positively impacting depressive symptoms and anxiety. The patient can regain energy and go about their activities with ease. HBOT results in a balance of activity and sensation between various brain parts. The hyper-elevated sensation of the somatosensory cortex is reduced. On the other hand, the activity of the frontal, cingulate, medial temporal, and cerebellar cortices is boosted. The exaggerated pain sensation associated with the unusual brain processing is addressed by increasing the oxygen supply to the brain tissues. In the long run, HBOT improves the quality of life and emotional and social well-being of those suffering from it. Those previously affected can sustain and create nourished relationships with workmates, friends, and family. Also, they can explore their full potential in their workplaces, especially outside work. 


Ablin, J. N., Lang, E., Catalogna, M., Aloush, V., Hadanny, A., Doenyas-Barak, K., Finci, S., Polak, N., Fishlev, G., Korin, C., Tzidky, R. Y., Meir Genuth, O., & Efrati, S. (2023). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy compared to pharmacological intervention in fibromyalgia patients following traumatic brain injury: A randomized, controlled trial. PLOS ONE, 18(3), 171–177.  

Chen, X., You, J., Ma, H., Zhou, M., & Huang, C. (2023). Efficacy and safety of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for fibromyalgia: A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open, 13(1), 47–54.  






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