As the millions of chronic pain sufferers will know, most of the pain medication available is ineffective at completely eradicating their pain, and it can be harmful to take some forms of painkillers long term. Now, researchers say that using hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy could be beneficial in reducing pain.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is more commonly used to treat decompression sickness or carbon monoxide poisoning but its role in relieving pain had not been tested before.
Yangmiao Zhang, a graduate student, worked alongside Raymond M. Quock, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Washington State University, to see if neuropathic pain, which is often treated with painkillers such as Amitriptyline, could be reduced by the use of HBO2 therapy.
During the trial, tests were carried out on male rats. The tests involved testing their pain threshold by using injections on four separate occasions. 24-hours after the rats were given the final injection they where then given an hour of HBO2 therapy. It was found that the rats given the most amount of oxygen recovered seven days more quickly than the others.
In conclusion, Raymond M. Quock, Ph.D, said:
“While most other HBO2 pain studies focus on inflammatory mechanisms, we believe that HBO2 also reduces pain by acting in the brain. Studying the mechanism of how HBO2 can reduce neuropathic pain can reveal molecular targets in the brain and possibly stimulate the development of new drugs that act on the same targets for long-term relief of chronic pain.”