Migraines are headaches of varying intensity and affect different areas of the brain from person to person. Patients usually describe the pain as “throbbing” or “pulsing” and can be accompanied by visual changes (auras), nausea, vomiting, weakness or loss of mobility in limbs, inability to communicate, and extreme sensitivity to light. Migraine attacks may last for several hours or days. Severe migraines may interfere with a patient’s ability to participate in daily tasks. These attacks can be chronic for some patients and may flare on a regular basis.
While the exact cause of migraines is still under investigation, researchers believe it is due to a combination of genetic variances and environmental triggers. Enlarged or dilated blood vessels in the brain are a common trigger for headaches and migraines. Patients may experience more frequent or intense migraines when they are stressed, overexert themselves, eat certain foods, or when barometric pressure changes occur in the area they live. Science has found that dysfunction in hormones and neurotransmitters may also play a role in the occurrence of migraines.
The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for acute migraines has been fairly studied over the years. A treatment in a hyperbaric chamber during a migraine has been clinically shown to quickly alleviate symptoms for many patients. The increased pressure from a treatment may act similarly to migraine medications by causing vasoconstriction in the brain, stopping the excessive blood flow thought to trigger symptoms. Current evidence as to whether hyperbaric therapy can prevent or lessen migraine attacks is mostly anecdotal. It is believed that hyperbaric therapy’s proven effectiveness at positively influencing 8,101 genes may play a role in balancing inflammation and hormone regulation within the brain, potentially lessening migraine occurrences.
Cephalalgia is one of the most common medical complaints and the search continues for relief. Early treatments for migraine included inhalation of 100% oxygen. It has been theorized that the increased levels of oxygen in the blood act as an alpha-adrenergic agent to alleviate headache pain through vasoconstriction and local metabolic effects. The presence of muscle tenderness during some migraine headaches has also been established. The purpose of this study was to document relief of cephalalgia through use of a visual analog pain scale, algometry, and manual palpation. Female subjects with confirmed migraine were randomly assigned to begin with either the control (100% oxygen, no pressure) or hyperbaric treatment (100% oxygen, pressure). Manual palpation and algometry of 10 sites were done, bilaterally, by a trained specialist. Pain was evaluated with a visual analog scale. Resolution of tenderness and edema following both treatments was observable by manual palpation while algometry showed no differences between the two. Subjective pain was significantly decreased following hyperbaric oxygen treatment but not following the control treatment. Results suggest that hyperbaric oxygen treatment reduces migraine headache pain and that the patient's subjective assessment was the best indicator of relief. Click here for full PubMed study
Woman suffering from migraine headache
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