HBOT Information

How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy relate to CRPS? Is it possible to successfully treat CRPS patients with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?In this section we will explore this exciting new area of treatment for CRPS patients and present the latest information, articles, studies, etc. and help you make an informed decision.


“Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (abbreviated HBOT) is a medical treatment that uses pure oxygen to speed and enhance the body’s natural ability to heal.” “During therapy, the patient breathes pure, 100% oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure. (The air we normally breathe contains only 19-21% of this essential element.) The concentration of oxygen normally dissolved in the bloodstream is thus raised many times above normal (up to 2000%). In addition to the blood, all body fluids including the lymph and cerebrospinal fluids are infused with the healing benefits of this molecular oxygen. It can reach bone and tissues which are inaccessible to red blood cells, enhance white blood cell function, and promote the formation of new capillary and peripheral blood vessels. This results in increased infection control and faster healing of a wide range of conditions.”

As Doctor Allan Spiegel of National Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy discusses on his website, “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has proven itself to be a very viable option to treat reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). Numerous articles in the medical literature have shown the reduction in pain and swelling associated with RSD and a return of function using hyperbaric oxygen. Best of all for CRPS patients, this is accomplished without the need for painful injections, narcotics, or surgical implants for pain management. Most RSD sufferers find that following the first few treatments they are able to achieve a full night’s sleep for the first time in years. They then notice the decreased need for narcotics, improved thinking, with a diminished depression. The swelling of the effected arm or leg associated with RSD diminishes and they are able to start physical therapy with marked improvement in muscle strength. Many people afflicted with CRPS have then been able to return to a happier and more productive life, frequently returning to their prior occupation.

Unfortunately, most people who suffer from CRPS only receive pain management. This means being prescribed various narcotics, and antidepressants. Then CRPS patients must start on a long and frequent schedule of stellate ganglion /sympathetic blocks. With exception of a few fortunate CRPS sufferers who respond to these injection, this expensive therapy is repeated weekly or monthly for the rest of the CRPS patient’s life. When CRPS sufferers fail to respond to these blocks, the patient is referred for morphine pump implants or spinal stimulators which cost more than $30,000 to implant and requires ongoing physician management on a monthly basis to make the proper adjustments. The pain management specialists usually pontificate the success that is achieved with these treatments. Yet, if they are so successful, then why do CRPS patients need 50 -200 stellate ganglion blocks, and why do most spinal stimulators do and morphine pumps fail to control the pain.

​HBOT is not currently approved by the FDA for use on CRPs patients so most insurance companies will not pay for it although there are a great many studies across the internet where you can find amazing results by CRPs patients who have undergone HBO Therapy. Do your research, see what you find.

(information supplied by National Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Center) This is Dr Allan Spiegel’s website.

According to COLE CENTER FOR HEALING in Cincinnati, Ohio (Dr Theodore Cole )


HBOT treatments involve placing you in a chamber, and then increasing the atmospheric pressure. During the treatment you breathe pure oxygen. This saturates the tissues with oxygen, and reverses any areas of hypoxia (low oxygen levels). As a comparison, the average person breathes in about 6 pounds of oxygen a day, which is about the same amount by weight of food and water intake. During a single hour of HBOT, a person will take in about 2.4 pounds of oxygen. This increases the oxygen content of the tissues by a factor of 10-15. Some of the effects this has are to promote the growth of new blood vessels, decreases swelling and inflammation, deactivates toxins, increase the body’s ability to fight infections, clears out toxins and metabolic waste products, and improve the rate of healing.”

What are some benefits of HBOT?

– Increases neuronal energy metabolism in the brain
– Can create sustained cognitive improvement
– Wakes up sleeping (idling) brain cells that are metabolizing enough to stay alive but are not actively “firing”
– Enhances the body’s ability to fight bacterial and viral infections
– Deactivates toxins and poisons (e.g. side effects from some chemotherapy, spider bites, air pollution, etc.)
– Enhances wound healing by stimulating the growth of new capillaries into the injured area
– Creates an immediate aerobic state
– Removes free radicals
– Reduces tissue swelling
– Acts as an anti-inflammatory

According to Susan Rodriguez of Rapid Recovery Hyperbarics in California;

– “RSD is a Neurological disorder, it is based within the brain and Nervous system. The treatment of HBOT will cause the brain to respond by reading pain in the proper nervous system.( the central nervous system)  All the while increasing the blood flow to the starved limbs and nerves that are damaged by the course of the disease.”

– “Example: why does RSD affect the diet and digestion? The pain is being read in a section of the brain that controls nausea, adrenal glands, which is a vascular constriction, ( taking away the blood from the organs and nerves to give you that RUSH you need when you are upset). We need to re-route those nerves and the way the brain is sending the signals. Normalize it.”


Quite a few patients who go through the HBO Therapy talk about “The Wall”. So what is the wall? Does every patient deal with it? Does it occur at the same point in treatment for every patient? What does it feel like? Does it affect the treatment results? 

I don’t know where the name originated only that when I was going through my own treatment (Keith Orsini, from American RSDHope speaking here), I was told about a point during the course of treatment where patients actually start to get worse before the get better. Up until that point the patient usually feels as if the treatment is working, the pain is lessening, maybe some of the other symptoms are lessening, you are typically sleeping much better, etc. and then all of the sudden BAM! You run into THE WALL! 

The treatments not only feel like they aren’t working anymore but it actually feels like you are losing some of the ground that you had gained. Some of the other HBOT patients I talked to said they felt like throwing in the towel here and saying “Why the heck am I even doing this, spending this money if I am worse than when I started?” It can be that dramatic. Unfortunately some patients give up at this point and don’t push through that wall to get through to the other side, to the relief that can come from finishing their course of treatment. 

When does this happen? The wall can come at different times for different patients. It seems to come around the 15 to 18 treatment mark for most. It is very easy to quit then. Very easy to say “Enough!” Thats when you want to give up and feel “What’s the point?” But you have to push beyond the wall. You need lots of encouragement around this time to get beyond that wall because when you do, only three or four sessions later, it is all rolling downhill and the relief can be amazing! Make sure your loved ones know about the wall so they can be prepared to cheer you on and give you the proverbial kick in the pants. Just remember, stay the course. It is worth it for the chance to be pain-free or in a much reduced pain state. 

You can read more about hitting the wall in Keiths Blog “PAIN IS A FOUR LETTER WORD” in which he chronicled his 30+ HBOT treatment, blogging each day and adding in some HBO facts along the way. Check out that blog “PAIN IS A FOUR LETTER WORD” from 2008 here. The posts about Keith’s HBOT journey in 2008, from the very first HBOT treatment to a few months after the last treatment, are all detailed in his blog. Dr Allan Spiegel was very brave to let him blog about what was going on considering Keith had had CRPS full body for decades as well as Fibromyalgia and a few other chronic issues. 


Is HBOT currently covered by most insurance companies for the treatment of CRPS? Not in most cases. The cost varies depending on where you have your treatment. It can vary from as little as $120 a session to as much as $300 a session or more. Be sure to factor in all the issues when looking at the clinic not just the cost per session. Look at what you are paying for; things like years of experience by the Physician and his staff, what kind of staff and what kind of training handles the Hyperbaric chambers, and be sure they are hard-sided chambers. 

You do get what you pay for in this like most things. Talk to the Dr and the staff if possible, visit the facility. Ask to speak to some of the previous patients. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of living while you are going through the procedure because it could take a couple of months or more to go through the entire series of treatments. Some facilities have arrangements with local hotels or apartment homes for reduced rates. Check on transportation as well because you may need help on your drive after the treatment. Plan on plenty of rest! That can make all of the difference in helping to make this treatment work. 

If you have any questions not covered here, in the blog noted above, in the articles in this section, or in the patient videos feel free to email Keith but please be sure to go through the information available here first. it will save a lot of time 😉