The Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen on Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Pilot Study

J Clin Rheumatol. 2021 Dec 1;27(8):e462-e468. doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000001540.


Background/objective: This case series pilot study assessed the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2) for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods: Ten RA subjects received 30 HBO2 treatments over 6 to 10 weeks. Serial rheumatologic evaluations (ie, the Disease Activity Scale [DAS28], the Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3, and the Pain and Sleep Quality Questionnaire) were completed at baseline, throughout the course of the study, and at the 6-month follow-up.

Results: There was a statistically significant effect of HBO2 therapy over time on the DAS28-Global Health (p = 0.01), the DAS28-C-reactive protein (p = 0.002), and the DAS28-erythrocyte sedimentation rate (p = 0.008) measures; these analyses excluded 2 patients who were in clinical remission at baseline. Selected post hoc comparisons showed significantly lower DAS28-Global Health, DAS28-C-reactive protein, and DAS28-erythrocyte sedimentation rate scores at 3 and 6 months relative to baseline. In addition, statistically significant decreases in pain as measured by the Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 and Pain and Sleep Quality Questionnaire were observed at the end of HBO2 relative to baseline.

Conclusions: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is effective for joint pain in patients with RA based on data from multiple, validated clinical measures. Further research with more subjects and the use of a control group is necessary.

Trial registration: NCT02984943.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / therapy
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Severity of Illness Index

Associated data