Does HBOT Improve Migraine Headache Pain?
Medical studies show promising results…
A migraine headache is debilitating. Its victim can feel nauseous or even vomit. In addition, migraine sufferers get profoundly sensitive to light and sound, and may feel like their fingers and toes are freezing. These typical symptoms can send them packing to bed for hours or days at a time. It’s practically unbearable to complete daily tasks or go to work. Unfortunately, those with migraines often find prescription medications provide temporary relief at best. At worst, taking these meds can actually trigger rebound headaches that perpetuate the pain cycle. But now another non-invasive and safe treatment is showing great promise at relieving migraine headaches: hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
Read more: Migraine Victims See Promising Results with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT):
The first mention of using oxygen therapy to treat migraines was in 1939. At that time, Mr. Charles E. Rhein of Linde Air Products, Co., informed Dr. Francisco Alvarez at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota that he had successfully treated migraine sufferers by having them breathe in pure oxygen at six to eight liters per minute.
In 1940, the intrigued Dr. Alvarez repeated the treatment on 100 headache patients. Using a nasal type of face mask to deliver oxygen at seven liters per minute, the doctor observed that in eight out of every 10 cases, patients got significant pain relief or their headaches subsided entirely. He also noted that treatments achieved the best results in patients who got oxygen therapy during the initial stages of their migraine.
Further studies continued to support Dr. Alvarez’s findings. In 1979, Dr. Lee Kudrow, founder of the California Medical Clinic for Headache in Encino, California began using oxygen therapy to successfully halt cluster migraines. After studying 402 patients, in 1988, Kudrow reported that most cluster headaches occur cyclically in July and January, about one week after the longest and shortest days of the year. Dr. Kudrow also noted that cluster headache periods diminished two weeks following the changes between standard time and daylight savings.
These observations led Dr. Kudrow to conclude that episodic cluster headaches occurred and faded due to changes in a person’s inner biological clock. Switching to daylight or standard time would tamper with circadian rhythms – resulting in low oxygen levels just prior to headache attacks. Circadian rhythms are centered in our hypothalamus, the part of our brains that regulates oxygen levels in the blood. And that could seem to explain why oxygen therapy had worked so effectively for three-quarters of the Dr. Kudrow’s cluster headache study subjects!
Since Kudrow’s research the medical community has conducted many studies comparing the results of hyperbaric oxygen therapy with placebo treatment to determine whether the therapy can relieve migraine symptoms. And the answer is a definite, yes. Studies reveal that large numbers of migraine sufferers get significant pain relief after just 40 minutes in an HBOT chamber. And when people are able to heed the warning signs of an oncoming migraine and seek oxygen therapy in advance, they can successfully avoid migraine attacks altogether.
How does HBOT provide migraine headache relief?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works by administering 100% oxygen at higher than normal air pressures, while you sit or lie comfortably in an enclosed chamber. Migraines can occur, in part, because brain blood vessels have swollen. HBOT’s oxygen-rich environment helps to bring down that swelling and make pain go away. Although HBOT won’t prevent headaches or reduce their frequency, many patients who come in for treatment during the midst of a migraine have found that it stops pain completely.
If you suffer from migraines or frequent headaches and would like to learn more about how HBOT may help reduce your pain, please contact us today. In cases where HBOT is not covered by insurance, we will explain your options. To schedule a headache assessment, simply click here or call 727-787-7077.