Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States are affected by the pain, disability, and decreased quality of life associated with arthritis. The primary focus of treatment is on reducing joint inflammation and pain through a variety of pharmacotherapies, each of which is associated with various side effects. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an alternative treatment that has been recommended to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases, ranging from chronic brain injury to exercise induced muscle soreness. The purpose of this set of experiments was to explore the effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on joint inflammation and mechanical hyperalgesia in an animal model of arthritis, and compare these effects to treatment with aspirin. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy significantly reduced both joint inflammation and hyperalgesia. As compared with aspirin treatment, hyperbaric treatment was equally as effective in decreasing joint inflammation and hyperalgesia.
Perspective: This article reports that hyperbaric oxygen treatment decreases pain and inflammation in an animal model of arthritis. The effect of hyperbaric oxygen treatment is very similar in magnitude to the effect of acetylsalicylic acid treatment. Potentially, hyperbaric oxygen could be used to treat pain and inflammation in patients with arthritis.