Fibromyalgia: Margherita asks for some information about hyperbaric therapy

Good morning, 8 years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

I have always undertaken a cortisone therapy when I perceived a lot of pain. In order to sleep, I have been taking a specific drug for four years with great results. During the day, the pain is continuous, especially in legs, feet, arms and hands, in particular in finger joints.

What can I do?

Thank you.

One comment on “Fibromyalgia: Margherita asks for some information about hyperbaric therapy

  1. Dr Nedjoua Belkacem on

    Dear Margherita,

    You write that you are affected by a really painful and debilitating disease as it is the case of fibromyalgia. I understand that it is not easy to manage this disease in your daily life and I am really sorry for your pain. As you required, I will try to explain to you the pathway we employ at the Ravenna Hyperbaric Centre.

    The main symptom of fibromyalgia is a widespread pain almost throughout the whole body. Sometimes it is migrating, without a specific cause.

    Furthermore, this disease can show some particular symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, muscle stiffness especially during the morning, headache, tingling sensation or hands or feet falling asleep, memory problems, concentration difficulties and very painful menstrual cycle in women.

    Although the causes are almost unknown, there is some evidence regarding the factors that can cause this disease, such as the nervous system neurotransmitters that lead to an alteration of the pain and mood regulatory mechanisms (central and peripheral nervous system) and the alteration of the blood flow in certain areas of the nervous system.

    There are provoking factors, such as chronic viral infections, physical or psycho-emotional traumas, inflammatory processes or muscular diseases.

    As regards the therapy, the suggested approach must be multidisciplinary for the disease complexity, including hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Until a few years ago, the therapy mainly based on the permanent use of pain-relieving, muscle relaxant and antidepressant drugs with the risk to see side effects arise.

    As of today, some recent Israeli scientific studies confirmed that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a therapy that acts not only on symptoms as the drugs do but also on the source and on the disease mechanisms.

    Functional magnetic resonances and the SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) exam made after the treatment showed some variations in the brain area where the pain arises. It is a sign that the oxygen infusion at a high pressure would act only on the fibromyalgia cause and not only on its symptoms.

    Hyperbaric oxygen acts also at the nerve cells level of the peripheral and central nervous system thus improving the data processing and transmission of the pain signals, without forgetting about the action on the muscle. It improves its oxygenation and as a consequence, it reduces its contracture and rigidity that leads to pain.

    The hyperbaric therapy goal is to relieve pain and improve life quality of the patients affected by fibromyalgia. It remains to be seen how long this improvement can be stable over time.

    This therapy is taken every day, 5 days per week for a total of 30 sessions of hyperbaric therapy. In the chamber, there are 12 patients and the atmospheric pressure is taken to higher levels than the normal ones. During the compression, the patients breathe pure oxygen through the face and nasal masks. People affected by serious heart failure, epilepsy and claustrophobia are not allowed to enter the chamber.

    As it is a complex disease, the Ravenna Hyperbaric Centre proposes hyperbaric oxygen together with other non-pharmacological therapies that allow addressing the disease various aspects, such as physical therapy aiming at deep muscle relaxation, electrostimulation, lymph drainage, acupuncture and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy.

    This is due to the fact that the key to success is the therapeutic pathway customized to the patient’s specific needs.

    The therapies remain the economic responsibility of the patient as the Italian National Health System doesn’t recognize them as part of the state-run health care.

    For more information on costs or for a possible appointment for a medical visit, if you are interested in the pathway we propose, I kindly invite you to contact our secretariat at the number + 39 0544 500152.

    Waiting to see you, I wish you all the best.

    Dr Nedjoua Belkacem
    Doctor of the Ravenna Hyperbaric Centre and of the Wound Care Centre of the Ravenna Local Health Authority

    Degree in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Ferrara and specialized in Internal medicine.
    Subscribed to the Medical Council of Ravenna, Number 2794

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