Arthritis is one of the most common adult ailments in the world. In the United States alone, 23% of all adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. “Arthr” means joint and “itis” is inflammation: arthritis = inflammation of joints. There are multiple forms of arthritis with multiple different causes, but inflammation of joints is common to all of them. Arthritis can result from injury to joints, undue stress to joints (such as from obesity), overuse, smoking, normal wear and tear, or our immune system attacking and injuring joint tissue. Common “bony” arthritis is seen mostly in older patients, but many forms of arthritis can occur at any age. Although there is no cure, many patients can experience symptom relief through treatment. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment of arthritis is a preferable and painless therapy that can increase a person’s quality of life, reduce symptoms, and help with long-term healing.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment of Arthritis
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the use of increased pressure and increased oxygen to treat diseases. HBOT acts primarily by affecting our genes. A single hyperbaric treatment of human cells has been shown to turn on or off over 8,101 of our 19,000 genes. The largest groups of turned-on genes are the anti-inflammatory and growth/repair genes and the largest groups of turned-off genes are those that cause inflammation and cell death. Because of this dominant effect on inflammation HBOT is ideally suited for conditions in which inflammation is a primary contributor to the disease such as arthritis. So, even though there are several forms of arthritis, HBOT can potentially be a treatment option for all of them.
The main symptoms of arthritis, which are swelling, inflammation, and pain, can be relieved through hyperbaric oxygen treatment of arthritis. The key is finding a dose of hyperbaric oxygen therapy that is best for a patient’s diagnosis and condition. Dr. Harch specializes in the dosing of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and generally recommends a series of 40 HBOT sessions at a dose specific to the patient. Some patients begin to see results after only one session. Most require at least 20 treatments before symptom reduction is obvious. Because of HBOT’s gene effects HBOT can help repair tissue damage from arthritis while it suppresses the ongoing inflammation. Other treatments available for arthritis may not be viable for every patient. HBOT is safe, and patients of all ages and all levels of severity are able to tolerate this treatment. The goal in any inflammatory condition is to remove or minimize the cause of the inflammation while suppressing the inflammation with HBOT.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis means swelling and/or inflammation of one or more joints. There are many conditions that fall into this category, but there are three types of arthritis that are the most common. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment of arthritis can make a difference in each of these three conditions by repairing tissue damage and suppressing ongoing inflammation.
HBOT for Osteoarthritis
This form of arthritis is the most common and is usually diagnosed in older patients. Osteoarthritis is joint swelling and inflammation caused by the degeneration of the joints and loss of cartilage. This usually occurs due to injury to joints, undue stress to joints (such as from obesity), overuse, smoking, and “normal wear and tear.” Because “normal wear and tear” is influenced by many different factors, it is possible for younger people with more wear and tear on their joints to have an osteoarthritis diagnosis. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment of arthritis can help osteoarthritis in ways that no other treatment can. HBOT can help the body increase collagen production, blood vessel growth, and even cartilage growth at sites of injury. It also reduces inflammation and swelling, helping the patient to experience pain relief. Many elderly patients also struggle from invasive reparative joint surgeries, vigorous physical therapy, or other rigorous treatments and therapies that can lead to chronic inflammation of the targeted joint. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is helpful in these situations, especially if coupled with any surgical procedure. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment of arthritis is safe, effective, and extremely simple. Some patients even fall asleep during their treatments! The benefit of HBOT for people with arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, can be life changing.
HBOT for Rheumatoid Arthritis
This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease. “Auto” means self and “immune” is immune, which means that the “self’s” immune system is attacking and causing inflammation of the joints. Currently, the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but the most likely cause in all autoimmune conditions is our immune system cross-reacting to some environmental agent such as a chemical or infectious organism. In the case of man-made chemicals the chemical attaches to our joint tissues and our immune system reacts to it. In the process of our immune system attacking the chemical our immune system reacts to our normal joint tissue as well. In the case of infectious organisms the organism’s proteins can attach to our joint tissues and stimulate an immune response similar to the situation with chemicals or the protein can look similar enough to our joint tissues that the normal immune response to the organism results in a simultaneous attack on our joint tissue.
This form of arthritis can appear gradually or suddenly, usually starting with swelling, pain, redness, and stiffness in one or more joints. The benefit of HBOT for people with arthritis is that this treatment has been proven to reduce swelling and inflammation at any site in the body, including the joints. HBOT also stimulates repair of damage done to the joints from inflammation.
HBOT for Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriasis is an extremely common skin disease that causes the development of thick patches of flaky, irritated, and painful skin. In some psoriasis patients, this can lead to involvement of the joints and is called psoriatic arthritis. This is more complicated than simple common bony arthritis because it is an autoimmune syndrome where the immune system now attacks the joints instead of just responding to wear and tear inflammation in the joints. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment of autoimmune arthritis inhibits the inflammation and swelling and causes growth of new cells, including skin cells. It also stimulates the body to create more collagen, which is essential to healthy skin. Patients can experience significant relief of their psoriasis as well as psoriatic arthritis symptoms through HBOT.
Benefit of HBOT for People with Arthritis
Many people with arthritis suffer with the symptoms each day. Other treatments for arthritis can be effective, but they can also be difficult to accomplish, may only work for a short period of time, may not work for each person, often are very expensive, and have significant side effects/risks. This is particularly true of anti-immune drug therapies. Unfortunately, the struggle to find a viable treatment can be long and arduous, sometimes with little or no relief. The benefit of HBOT for people with arthritis is that it is another option, and it works for many different forms of arthritis with minimal side effects. HBOT has been proven to reduce swelling and inflammation, decrease fatigue and pain, and help repair injury caused by arthritis. Depending on the severity of the condition, HBOT can lead to a new life for many patients.