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Hyperbaric Oxygen in the Treatment of Migraine With Aura

Authors

  • Judy R. Wilson PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. From the Department of Integrative Physiology (Dr. Wilson), University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth; and
      Address all correspondence to Dr. Judy Wilson, Department of Exercise, Sport and Health Studies, University of Texas at Arlington, PO Box 19259, Arlington, TX 76019-0259.
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  • Brian H. Foresman DO,

    1. Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis (Dr. Foresman); and the
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  • Russell G. Gamber DO,

    1. Department of Manipulative Medicine (Dr. Gamber), University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth;
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  • Timothy Wright DO

    1. Osteopathic Medical Center of Texas, Fort Worth (Dr. Wright).
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Address all correspondence to Dr. Judy Wilson, Department of Exercise, Sport and Health Studies, University of Texas at Arlington, PO Box 19259, Arlington, TX 76019-0259.

Abstract

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.

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