Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of migraine with aura

Headache. 1998 Feb;38(2):112-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1526-4610.1998.3802112.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / classification
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies