Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has shown promising outcomes in the treatment of fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain. One hypothesis suggests that the hyperactivity of pain processing pathways in the brain contributes to fibromyalgia, while there is also a decrease in pain inhibiting pathways. HBOT treatments involve administering 100 percent oxygen under pressure, which enhances cell metabolism, reduces cell death and oxidative stress, increases levels of neurotrophins and nitric oxide, and stimulates the growth of neural stem cells. By inducing neuroplasticity and correcting abnormal brain activity, HBOT can effectively address fibromyalgia symptoms.
In the past, the main diagnostic requirement for fibromyalgia was the presence of trigger points—specific locations on the body that caused extreme pain when pressure was applied. To receive a diagnosis, individuals needed to have at least 11 of these trigger points. However, the understanding of fibromyalgia has evolved, recognizing that pain is not always constant. As a result, the presence of positive trigger points is no longer necessary for diagnosis. Medical professionals now focus more on evaluating symptoms such as widespread pain lasting longer than three months, the occurrence of additional symptoms, and ruling out other potential underlying medical conditions. Although fibromyalgia affects people of all genders and ages, women account for 75 to 90 percent of reported cases.
Research indicates that fibromyalgia may lead to alterations in certain brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, contributing to increased pain signals. The condition also demonstrates a familial tendency, suggesting a potential genetic mutation. Symptoms of fibromyalgia often manifest following a serious illness, infection, or traumatic event, indicating the possibility of a triggering factor that activates the condition.