More than 90 per cent of people afflicted with the condition are women, said Eshel Ben-Jacob, a lead author of the proof-of – concept analysis who created the empirical approach used to explain the correlation between health development and brain changes.
He is an adjunct professor of biosciences at Rice University, a senior researcher at Rice ‘s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics and a professor of physics and member of Tel Aviv University’s Sagol School of Neuroscience. Fibromyalgia is a disease of chronic pain that may be compounded by other physical and emotional problems including exhaustion, cognitive dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, and sleep disruption.
Effect of gender on body disorders
“The majority never heard of fibromyalgia,” he says. “So those others, including certain doctors, do not agree that this is a true condition. I heard from my MD friends that this is not the only situation where disorders primarily affecting women increase suspicion in the medical world about whether or not they are genuine.
However, there are increasing attempts these days to understand the impact of gender on body disorders. “Needless to say, fibromyalgia can significantly affect daily life , work and relationships, particularly because anxiety and depression are close associates of the condition. To make matters worse, before recently, medical research has not been in a position to deliver anything in the form of successful care.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO)
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) is a common treatment for deep-sea diving with decompression sickness (The Bends); for carbon monoxide poisoning; and for other soft-tissue accidents. The technique involves breathing oxygen in a single- or multi-person, pressurized hyperbaric chamber via a mask.
Many MS national rehabilitation facilities in the UK now have hyperbaric chambers due to recent evidence that HBO can assist with MS symptoms. These clinics also accept patients with other diseases as well, and many people like ME have taken this chance to seek HBO at very affordable rates.
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers
Among many other conditions, hyperbaric oxygen chambers that expose patients to pure oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressures are commonly used for treating patients with embolisms, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning and decompression sickness (known to divers as “the bends”).
One effect of exposure is to push more oxygen into the bloodstream of a patient which supplies it to the brain. Efrati ‘s earlier research showed HBOT promote neuroplasticity that results in permanently damaged brain function recovery and increased quality of life for patients with post-stroke and minor traumatic brain injury, also years after the original damage. The women who finished the therapy reported a dramatic change in their condition.
“Drug intake eased the pain but did not reverse the condition,” Dr Efrati said. “But hyperbaric oxygen treatments have reversed the condition,” but does HBO really help to lessen ME / CFS symptoms? In 2006, the Interaction Journal of Action for ME released an summary of participants’ perceptions with various ‘oxygen treatments,’ like HBO. Many considered HBO beneficial in alleviating certain symptoms, such as brain fog or concentrating, but some did not show any permanent change.
As far as scientific research is concerned, there were only two small experimental studies on ME / CFS patients; one reported unspectacular, mostly unsignificant results when HBO was given daily for one week (Van hoof 2003), while the other (an uncontrolled trial) reported that HBO given daily for three weeks decreased the severity of the symptoms and increased quality of life (Akarsu 2013). So, there is no convincing evidence yet (anecdotal or experimental) that most people with ME / CFS can benefit from HBO.
Usually fibromyalgia is treated by a variety of treatments including medications, improvements in diet, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The new study comprised 48 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia at least two years earlier. Half underwent 40 treatments with hyperbaric oxygen over a period of two months.
The treatments were administered five times a week. Every session lasted 90 minutes. Patients breathed 100 percent pressurized oxygen at double the average air pressure during the operation. The therapy is believed to improve the supply of oxygen to body tissues, thus increasing healing.
The brain pathology responsible for the syndrome
“The findings are important,” Dr. Efrati said. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapies are intended to resolve the underlying cause of fibromyalgia which is responsible for the syndrome ‘s brain pathology. It means that brain recovery is possible also for severe, long-lasting pain syndromes, including neuronal regeneration, and we should and should strive for that with the future advancement of care.
Certain patients will probably need follow-up sessions, says Efrati. “Anomalies in brain areas that are responsible for the persistent pain experience in patients with fibromyalgia may be caused by multiple events. The long-term answer may be specific, accordingly.
Reduction in the number of fibromyalgia ‘tender points’
Overall, HBO resulted in a significant reduction in the number and tenderness of fibromyalgia ‘tender points.’ Physical health and quality of living have increased. But the most interesting result came from brain SPECT imaging which showed that HBO ‘rectified’ the functioning of some brain areas of fibromyalgia was thought to be abnormal.
HBO has decreased activation in the posterior brain area (which is essential for pain management, which may be hyperactive in fibromyalgia). In comparison, HBO improved activation in the frontal brain regions (which are responsible for pain control and can be hypoactive in fibromyalgia). There was also intriguing evidence that the ‘normalization’ of brain activity in those areas coincided with symptom improvements.
Periodic maintenance therapy
The researchers found several differences between patients with different catalysts for fibromyalgia. For eg, after a traumatic brain injury caused fibromyalgia, they experienced a full recovery without requiring further treatment. But patients required periodic maintenance therapy when the trigger was attributed to other causes, such as fever-related diseases.
- Oxygen Chamber Therapy May Ease Fibromyalgia By Maureen Salamon via Web MD
- Shai Efrati, M.D., director, research and development unit, and director, Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research, Assaf-Harofeh Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel; Michelle Dang, M.D., anesthesiologist and pain management specialist, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas; June 2015, PLOS ONE