HBOT Improves Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
A lot of medical conditions, including diabetes, negatively impact the system of veins and arteries that transport blood to and from bodily tissues. We refer to this damage as peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD afflicts one out of 20 middle aged Americans, and one in five over the age of 70. It is caused by atherosclerosis – narrowed and diseased arteries that get clogged with plaque. This reduces blood supply to the lower legs and feet, leading to tissue ischemia (poor circulation) and hypoxia (lack of oxygen). Swelling (edema) puts additional pressure on capillaries, which reduces circulation even further. This can cause neuropathy, nerve damage that causes shooting or stabbing pains, numbness, pins-and-needles and muscle weakness in the extremities.
Some of peripheral artery disease’s warning signs include:
- skin discoloration
- hair loss
Half of all patients with long-term diabetes experience PAD symptoms. The pain is difficult to deal with, but it actually presents less risk than losing sensation, due to poor circulation. Consider what happens when somebody walks around all day with a stone in their shoe that they aren’t able to feel. Or if the person gets a blister or cut they don’t notice. As you might guess, these small injuries soon turn intoinfections that are very hard to heal. If patients don’t get treatment right away it can lead to serious infections, including gangrene. When infection progresses, the next course of action is partial or full amputation.
HBOT effectively corrects tissue ischemia and hypoxia in the extremities by bringing down swelling, increasing circulation, and fighting off infections to promote wound healing.
Research about HBOT’s ability to reverse atherosclerosis is in early stages. Two studies by the US Air Force School Aerospace Medicine and Louisiana State University documented that HBOT successfully reversed atherosclerosis in rabbits. According to the studies, all animals exposed to hyperbaric oxygen therapy “demonstrated characteristics expected of in the advanced stages of a healed nerve.” In 2014, researchers in Turkey studied the effects of HBOT on 117 diabetic foot wound patients. They found that patients who had stroke or coronary artery disease or whose large artery in the thigh was affected by atherosclerosis may not benefit from HBOT. But patients with PAD below the knee saw significant benefits.
Benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- improves tissue oxygenation
- eliminates toxic substances that have built up due to poor circulation and hypoxia
- relieves pain
- reduces inflammation and swelling (edema)
- activates formation of new capillaries to improve circulation and blood supply
- improves blood quality
- prevents blood clots and reduces the chance for thrombosis
- boosts white blood cells to enhance the immune system and help antibiotics work better
- prevents or reduces infection
- reduces frequency of ulcers forming
In addition, HBOT…
- helps wounds close quickly
- promotes growth of new tissues
- stops continued tissue damage
- prevents the excessive scarring that slow healing can cause
- prepares patients for skin grafts and increases the chances of grafts surviving
- reduces numbness and increases sensitivity in extremities
When patients with PAD have tissue damage or wounds that resist healing, many insurance companies will cover Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
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