Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – New Hope For PN And Foot Wounds
If you or someone you love suffers from peripheral neuropathy (PN), you know how scary the symptoms can be. Neuropathy frequently begins with a mild tingling in the hands and feet. But as neuropathy progresses, symptoms become more severe.
PN victims suffer from dizziness and loss of coordination. Patients lose muscle strength, and reflexes may begin to fail. In its cruel end stages, PN can cause bowels or bladders to “let go,” stabbing or burning pains, and electrical sensations that course throughout the body. Gradually, someone with PN can lose feeling in their fingers and toes. If that numbness spreads to your arms and legs, you won’t feel pain if you step on a thumbtack or get a pebble in your shoe. But missing that tiny item can eventually result in a serious, non-healing wound.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy And What Causes It?
Neuropathy is a disorder that impacts the peripheral nerves. Periphery means an external boundary or surface. Peripheral nerves refer to the nerves and ganglia (clusters of nerve cells) outside of the spinal cord that connect it to internal organs, muscles and skin.
How Many People Have PN?
In 2017, the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy estimates that 20 million Americans suffer from some form of the disorder. This is the rough breakdown the Foundation provides on its website:
- Diabetic 60%
- Idiopathic (no known cause) 23%
- Chemotherapy-induced 10%
- HIV/AIDS 2%
- Other 5%
The “Other” category above could include nutritional deficiencies, tumors, infections or toxins. But as you can see, Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) is by far the most prevalent type.
If I Have PN, What Should I Do?
Even small injuries become hard to heal infections when left untreated. If patients don’t seek medical help right away, an infected wound could even lead to the need for a foot or leg amputation. Because of numbness in their extremities, patients with diabetes are prone to get foot ulcers they may not even know exist. Because of that it is crucial to check for small wounds on a daily basis and to get help as soon as you detect one. But even if an infection becomes severe, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) can heal the wound and often even save a limb.
Healing DPN With HBOT
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) effectively heals infection by reducing swelling and increasing circulation. It does this through promoting revascularization – the formation of new blood capillaries. Once blood flow to the infected area improves, nerve repair and regrowth can begin. New nerve fibers reverse PN and relieve its symptoms. In addition, studies show that hyperbaric oxygen stimulates the release of stem cells in the wound area that differentiate into new tissue and nerve cells.
During hyperbaric oxygen therapy patients sit or lie comfortably in a chamber and breathe in pure oxygen at a variety of seal level pressures. As they do, the oxygen bathes the patient’s body tissues, getting into deep areas that even red blood cells can’t reach. In addition, HBOT boosts white blood cells, which strengthens the immune system and helps antibiotics work more effectively.
Will Insurance Cover PN Oxygen Therapy?
If patients with PN have tissue damage or wounds that resist healing, many insurance companies will cover Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Neurologist Dr. Allan Spiegel, MD has helped heal thousands of diabetic wounds caused by PN, and has saved patients’ limbs from amputation. To help him determine if you may be a good candidate for HBOT, click here for a free consultation or call our Palm Harbor, Florida center at 727-787-7077.
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