When a person suffers from migraine pain, they feel miserable. The sensitivity to light, sound, and smell drastically increases, and they may experience blurry vision, eye pain, and dizziness along with a severe headache.
Unfortunately, there’s no concrete treatment for migraine pain. We can’t fully cure it, and we can only treat it with pain medications, which also take some time to work.
Therefore, doctors often suggest assistive therapies that help the patient understand triggers that may lead to severe migraine pain. This knowledge allows for reducing triggers, hence, decreasing the frequency of migraine pain.
HBOT therapy is one assistive therapy that helps relieve migraine pain. It improves blood flow in the brain, which reduces inflammation and migraine pain.
What is HBOT Therapy and Its Benefits?
HBOT therapy is a process of offering pure oxygen to the body at high pressure. In the hyperbaric chamber, the patient inhales 100% oxygen at an increased pressure that helps absorb more oxygen in the blood.
When we are breathing in normal air, we are breathing 21% oxygen at normal pressure. Only our red blood cells can carry oxygen throughout the body with the help of the process. Therefore, whenever there’s an injury or inflammation, the blood flow in the area reduces.
With HBOT therapy, pressure increases, and our bodily fluids like lipids and plasma also carry oxygen. This helps in a range of functions, such as:
Improved blood flow
Blood vessel generation
Stem cell regeneration
Reduced oxidative stress
With this, patients with severe migraine pain experience promising results.
Using HBOT Therapy for Migraine Pain
Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed with moderate to severe migraine. However, we don’t have a universal treatment that can help improve the symptoms of this health condition. Hence, patients are often advised to identify triggers that lead to frequent migraine pains and avoid these completely. For example, a diet containing fewer calories and too much gap between meals can cause acid reflux that can lead to migraine pain. We can avoid this trigger by eating smaller meals at regular intervals.
HBOT therapy is another viable treatment option to explore. It helps improve blood flow in blood vessels, which helps reduce injury and inflammation. This helps patients suffering from many neurological problems.
In one of the first treatments for migraine with HBOT therapy, it was found that this treatment can help deliver pure oxygen to blood plasma, which improves oxygen flow throughout the body, including our brain. When we use this experiment in a controlled environment, oxygen flow to the brain and other body parts can be regulated, which means we can use it to treat swelling, diminished blood flow, and blood vessel spasms.
What does Research reveal?
In a review, three trials gauged the efficiency of HBOT therapy for migraine pain. The review revealed that HBOT therapy helped treat migraine pain in 40-45 minutes when compared to the sham treatment.
In two of these studies, normobaric therapy was used to treat cluster headaches. One study showed improvement in headaches with normobaric therapy (which is HBOT therapy at normal pressure). The other study was also effective in treating cluster headaches but proved less beneficial than prescription medication. Overall, 76% of patients from both the studies (combined) experienced relief in headaches with normobaric therapy.
However, it is imperative to note that cluster headaches lead to an alteration of activity in many brain areas, and oxygen can normalize the activity. Migraine pain is due to dilation of blood vessels in the head, and HBOT therapy helps constrict them and relieve inflammation, which helps reduce the pain.
In another case involving a 40-year-old patient, HBOT therapy was checked for migraine pain. The patient was experiencing consistent, severe, throbbing pain in the head’s right side. He also experienced photophobia occasionally without visual disturbance. The patient had migraine for more than ten years, and the pain occurred approximately twice or thrice in one month. However, in the previous six months, it increased to 15 times in a month with the pain lasting for 1-2 hours.
The Numerical Rating Scale for pain increased to 10/10 from 6/10. The patient used to take anti-inflammatory drugs, opioids, and antiepileptics. None of these medications or therapies was currently helping the patient reduce the severe throbbing pain in the head.
Upon checking his vitals, the patient was offered HBOT therapy. He received around 20 HBOT sessions for 90-minute each at 2 ATA. The plan included one session every day, five days a week for a month. Once the therapy concluded, the patient experienced a drastic improvement in migraine pain and symptoms. The pain rating reduced to 2/10 after just a month. He didn’t even need the medications he was consuming earlier, and he could continue his daily schedule without complications.
Ideally, with a pain range of 1-3, the patient is better able to handle and live with the pain over time. HBOT therapy helped this patient improve his quality of life by bringing down the severity of his pain.
Patients suffering from migraine pain are not able to live a normal if the pain rating increases drastically. Their pain intensity is too high to manage and continue with daily activity. In this review, we have evaluated how HBOT therapy can help reduce the intensity and pain rating of migraine in patients.
If you are experiencing throbbing migraine pains, consult your doctor and seek consultation for HBOT therapy.