HBOT and Broken Bones: How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Helps Heal Fractures
Immobilization in a splint or cast keeps broken bones stable and promotes healing. By controlling the movement of the bone, a healthy body breaks down damaged bone cells (with osteoblasts) while repairing and growing healthy new bone (with osteoclasts). In some cases, bone repositioning through traction or the use of surgical pins or screws holds broken bones together and keeps them in place while healing occurs. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that easy. Extensive trauma to surrounding tissue, infection, aging, diabetes, or other factors can disrupt natural healing.
This is where HBOT helps in the healing process. With the administration of 100 percent oxygen, the body receives increased levels of oxygen into the tissue. This promotes an increase in osteoblasts and osteoclasts, leading to healthy bone growth. In addition, HBOT stimulates the production of collagen, the fibrous material that essentially brings broken bones back together. A 2007 study published in Connective Tissue Research showed that HBOT treatments stimulated the production of osteoblasts. This study provided evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy effectively heals bone breaks and fractures.
HBOT, Bone Disorders, and Osteomyelitis
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone, typically caused by bacteria, though it can be fungal in origin. The infection enters the bone from infected skin, blood, muscles or tendons. If left untreated, the infection can disrupt the blood supply to the bone. This results in the death of bone tissue. In most cases, osteomyelitis develops from staphylococci bacteria, or a staph infection.
The typical treatment for osteomyelitis is a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always stop the infection. The result is increased inflammation that blocks blood vessels. Once the blood vessels are blocked, oxygen can no longer travel to the bone and the tissue begins to die. Bacteria thrive in an oxygen-depleted environment and, because of this, HBOT treatments provide an ideal treatment option. The added oxygen received during HBOT treatments provides the tissue and bone with the necessary oxygen to promote healing. At the same time, the oxygen-rich environment slows the spread of the bacteria. Often physicians order HBOT along with antibiotic therapy or surgery.
A 2013 study published in The Open Orthopaedics Journal looks at HBOT for osteomyelitis in compromised hosts. Researchers show that in addition to normal treatment options, like surgical debridement and antibiotic therapy, HBOT treatments are an important treatment option for high-risk patients.
If you would like more information on how HBOT can help you, please take a moment to give our office a call and set up a consultation with Dr. Spiegel and his team. They will answer any questions you may have and help create a treatment plan that is designed just for you. You may also fill out our online form HERE