HBOT and Peripheral Nerve Regeneration: Benefits and Treatment Options
HBOT therapy works by flooding the body with 100 percent oxygen at increased air pressure. When it comes to damaged nerves, the damage often occurs due to decreased blood flow and oxygenation to the location. By using hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, oxygen floods into the area and helps stimulate nerve growth and regeneration. It is essential to treat nerve damage as soon as possible as the longer the damage continues, the chance of nerve death increases. When doctors prescribe hyperbaric oxygen treatment in connection with surgical nerve damage and regeneration, HBOT proves very beneficial.
Peripheral Nerve Trauma and Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral nerve injuries range from minor, where the nerve fibers or the insulation tissue surrounding the nerves become compressed or damaged, to severe, where both the fibers and insulation sustain damage or become completely severed. Symptoms of a peripheral nerve trauma depend on what nerve or group of nerves receive the injury. Symptoms include:
- Tingling or numbness
- Sensitivity to temperature, touch, pain, or vibrations on the skin
- Sharp, burning, throbbing, or freezing pain
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness
- Heat intolerance and altered sweating
- Bowel, bladder, and digestive issues
- Altered blood pressure that results in dizziness or lightheadedness
Peripheral neuropathy breaks down into three categories. First, mononeuropathy affects one single nerve. Second, multiple mononeuropathies affect two or more nerves in different areas. Lastly, polyneuropathy affects many nerves and is the most common type of peripheral neuropathy. One complication that can occur due to nerve damage and the loss of sensation are skin burns and wound trauma because there is a reduced or lack of feeling. Another complication is an infection because often a person without feeling in an area can be unaware of a simple cut or wound. Falls and their associated injuries can also be the result of nerve damage and a lack of balance.
Diagnostic tests to confirm nerve damage can include electromyography (EMG), a nerve conduction study, and an MRI.
Causes of Peripheral Nerve Damage
Peripheral nerve trauma can occur as a result of several conditions aside from injury. Any condition that can cause swelling, inflammation, changes in the blood flow, or any type of pressure on the nerve can result in damage. Some of the common causes of nerve damage include:
- Trauma or Injury – Injuries, such as broken bones, car accidents, or even simple falls can result in damage to your nerves. This can be a mild injury that will heal on its own or, in the case of a broken bone, the nerve could be severed.
- Pressure on the Nerve – Simple, prolonged pressure on the nerve can result in nerve damage. Things like using crutches, repetitive typing motion, or simply staying in a position for too long that puts pressure on the nerve.
- Autoimmune Diseases – Chronic inflammation and other factors associated with many autoimmune conditions can result in nerve damage. Some of these conditions include Sjogren’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.
- Diabetes – More than half of all patients with diabetes suffer from neuropathy
- Infections – Many infections can cause damage to the nerves. These can include shingles, Lyme disease, Epstein-Barr virus, HIV, and hepatitis C.
- Vitamin Deficiencies – Deficiencies in the B vitamins, vitamin E and niacin can damage nerves as they are necessary to maintain nerve health.
- Tumors – Abnormal growths, whether they are cancerous or not, can put pressure on the nerves.
- Medications – Certain medications, such as chemotherapy, can cause nerve damage.
- Other Medical Conditions – Other potential causes for nerve damage include poisoning, liver disease, kidney disease, connective tissue disorders, hypothyroidism, bone marrow disorders, and certain genetic diseases, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
Treatment for nerve damage and neuropathies focus on treating the underlying cause of the damage. In many cases, there is no way to repair a broken nerve, so treatment focuses on managing the symptoms. Some common treatment options include:
- Medications – There are a variety of medications used to treat nerve damage. In cases of autoimmune disease, medications target the immune system in the hopes of stopping the damage. Doctors also prescribe nerve blocks, topical ointments, TENS therapy, and opioid medications for nerve pain.
- Surgery – Surgery can occur to fix a compression, such as in a herniated disk in the back. In cases where the nerve is severed, surgery can reattach the nerve in some cases. A surgeon removes injured tissue and scarring and then attempts to reconnect the nerve as long as it can be done without tension to the nerve.
- Plasma Exchange and Intravenous Immune Globulin – This treatment helps those with nerve damage caused by autoimmune conditions.
If you would like to learn more about how hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment helps peripheral nerve damage and regeneration, give our office a call at 727.787.7077 to set up an initial consultation. Dr. Spiegel and his team will evaluate your medical history and work with you to come up with an individualized treatment plan. You may also click HERE to fill in a contact form and one of our team members will get in touch with you.