How Oxygen Therapy Works | HBO TherapyFebruary 14, 2019
If you have a foot ulcer or leg wound that is linked to diabetes, you likely know how long these sores can linger. And, the longer they take to heal, the more vulnerable you are to infection and other risks. Speeding up the healing process is better for your health all around.
That’s where hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy comes in. Research and clinical experiences show this therapy can reduce the presence of certain non-healing wounds. It can also speed up how quickly they improve. The key is increasing the amount of oxygen that reaches injured tissue.
HOW IS HBO THERAPY PERFORMED?
HBO therapy exposes patients to 100 percent oxygen inside a pressurized chamber that has up to three times the air pressure of our everyday environment. During the session, the lungs are able to take in more oxygen than they usually can, funneling it into the blood stream. That’s critical because more oxygen equals more healing.
WHAT DOES OXYGEN DO?
Your body’s tissues need oxygen to function properly, and they also need it to fix any problems, such as wounds or sores. During HBO therapy, oxygen dissolves into the body’s fluids, including blood, plasma, and central nervous system fluids. The oxygen can easily be transported through the circulatory system. Once it reaches a foot ulcer or leg wound, oxygen increases the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria. It also helps to fight infection, and reduce swelling. Additionally, it helps the body grow new blood vessels that will continue to help oxygen reach injured tissue.
HOW GOOD ARE THE RESULTS
Recent clinical trials show HBOT can be an effective tool in improving the condition of long-lasting foot ulcers or leg wounds. The Journal of Anesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology conducted a study that followed 30 individuals with chronic non-healing wounds for 30 days. The participants treated with HBO therapy saw a 59% reduction in wound area. Patients treated with more conventional therapies only saw a 26% improvement.
Other studies also showed HBO therapy can improve the condition of these wounds. An additional 12 randomized trials involving 577 people, many of whom reported having diabetic foot ulcers, showed positive results. Based on the study outcomes, patients who received HBO therapy saw foot ulcer improvement at six weeks. HBO also reduced the size of leg vein wounds.