The FDA currently recognizes Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for treatment of more than a dozen medical conditions, all of which are generally covered by insurance.
HBOT may also benefit many conditions not yet approved by the FDA but are supported by significant, long-standing research. Following is a list of both the medical conditions approved by the FDA (covered by insurance) and those that have shown benefit through peer-reviewed research (not covered by insurance).
As an independent provider of chronic wound care and HBOT, we can offer oxygen therapy to all who may benefit. At Central Coast Wound Care Center & Hyperbarics, we strive to accommodate the needs and circumstances of all potential candidates for HBOT. Several payment options and financial assistance are available where treatments are not covered by insurance.
Conditions approved by the FDA and generally covered by insurance:
Diabetic wounds do occur on the knees and legs, but they’re most frequently found on the feet in the form of diabetic foot ulcers. Many diabetic foot ulcers develop under the big toe and along the balls of the feet. The earlier you can identify your diabetic foot ulcer and receive treatment, the better your chances of preventing severe complications.
The lives of many cancer patients have been saved by radiation treatment, but tumor-killing radiation can also damage healthy tissue. When blood vessels are damaged, restricted blood flow can lead to wounds in soft tissue and bone. These injuries can occur months or even years after the radiation treatments were completed.
These extremely serious bacterial infections develop rapidly and cause the affected tissue (skin, underlying tissues, and muscles) to die (necrosis). A necrotizing infection begins when bacteria enter the body, usually through a minor break in the skin. As the bacteria multiply, they produce toxins that kill tissue and degrade blood flow to the area. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, a life-threatening development.
Difficult-to-heal skin ulcers in the extremities can be caused by faulty valves in veins that increase the pressure in the veins. The pooling of blood and high venous pressure causes a breakdown of the venous wall and leakage. The resulting inflammatory response leads to the eventual degradation of surrounding tissue and skin.
Hikers, skiers, and adventurers who travel to high altitudes can sometimes develop acute mountain sickness. It typically occurs at about 8,000 feet, or 2,400 meters, above sea level. Dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath are a few symptoms of this condition. Most instances of altitude sickness are mild and heal quickly. In rare cases, altitude sickness can become severe and cause complications with the lungs or brain. Acute mountain sickness is treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
Surgical incisions can open up after surgery due to infection, poor tissue structure, compromised circulation, or stress on the wound. Wounds that have been closed with skin grafts or skin flaps may fail to heal for similar reasons. Open wounds are susceptible to serious infections, especially when the wound is near the bone, which can lead to bone infection (osteomyelitis).
In a rare and dangerous condition, an air or gas embolism is an air bubble that has entered a vein or artery that can travel to the brain, heart, or lungs and cause a stroke, heart failure, or respiratory failure. Air can enter a vein accidentally during certain medical procedures, from trauma to the lung or during scuba diving. Small embolisms can dissipate naturally without causing serious problems, but a large air/gas embolism can be fatal unless treated quickly with Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
A severe physical injury caused by a crushing weight, severe blow, gunshot, car accident or industrial accident can result in “traumatic ischemia” or restricted blood supply to tissues and organs. This can lead to tissue death and severe infection.
Decompression sickness--or the "bends" is a condition brought on when a diver surfaces too quickly and does not allow the gases in the body to expand at a safe rate. Dissolved gases form bubbles inside the body, which can lead to serious complications such as gas embolism. Decompression sickness is treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
Most gangrene infections occur when bacteria enter a surgical incision or a wound caused by injury. Non-traumatic gas gangrene, which is rare, develops when blood flow to tissues is compromised and bacteria gets inside. People with peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), or diabetes are more vulnerable to gangrene.
Carbon monoxide (CO2) poisoning occurs when too much CO2 builds up in the air and is inhaled. This common gas--found in the fumes produced from cars, trucks, stoves, grills, furnaces, and fireplaces--is nearly impossible to avoid. When carbon monoxide poisoning occurs, hemoglobin becomes saturated with CO molecules, rejects oxygen from entering, and ultimately causes the body to become starved of oxygen. Carbon monoxide has a powerful impact on the body and ongoing therapy may be needed to overcome damage and regenerate the body’s innate healing capabilities.
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. It is rare but very serious. It occurs when infection elsewhere in the body spreads through the bloodstream into the bone. An open fracture or hip/knee surgery may expose the bone to infection. Diabetes and a compromised immune system can increase the risk of osteomyelitis.
Severe anemia is caused by an immense loss of blood, which reduces the amount of iron in the body. This lack of iron makes the bone marrow unable to increase the production of new blood cells to replace the lost ones. The deficiency of red blood cells reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, which starves the tissues and organs of oxygen.
Conditions not yet approved by the FDA, but therapeutic benefits are well-documented and supported by ongoing research:
It can take up to 4-6 weeks for the body to fully recover from plastic surgery wounds. However, research and experience suggest that the downtime for reconstructive surgery could be lessened by up to 75% with the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Anoxic brain injury is a type of brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation. This can cause serious damage, as the brain depends on oxygen to function properly. In fact, brain cells without enough oxygen will begin to die after about six minutes. There are several ways someone could suffer anoxic brain damage. Nearly drowning, experiencing a decrease of oxygen flow to the brain due to a heart issue and overdosing on drugs are just a few examples.
Cerebral Palsy is a condition caused by damage to the developing brain while in the womb or during childbirth. Common symptoms include lack of muscle tone, reflexes, motor control, and coordination. There is no known cure for cerebral palsy, but it is not progressive. Therapeutic interventions focus on preventing complications and helping patients live with daily challenges.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disorder that weakens the body for prolonged periods. Bed rest does not improve fatigue of this kind and the condition is actually made worse by physical or mental exertion. The symptoms include muscle exhaustion, inability to sleep, joint pain, headaches, and difficulties concentrating.
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome is a chronic condition that can cause serious pain. Symptoms include terrible swelling, burning, sensitivity to touch, and alterations in skin color, typically to purple or blue.
Scleroderma is a chronic connective tissue disease that is estimated to affect just over a quarter of a million Americans each year. One of the most obvious symptoms is hardening or tightening of the skin. Other symptoms of Scleroderma include joint pain, a heightened reaction to cold temperatures and acid reflux, in addition to potential problems to the heart, lungs or kidney.
Concussions are traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) that damage the brain. They are often caused by some type of external force, including wounds that penetrate the skull and closed-head injuries.Concussions can have varying degrees of severity, but all are considered serious injuries that should be evaluated by a medical professional. Professional and adolescent athletes, particularly those involved in contact sports, tend to be more at risk.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon and ileum, associated with ulcers and fistulae. Symptoms range from mild to severe and may include frequent diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramping, reduced appetite, unexplained weight loss and rectal bleeding.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder. Symptoms include widespread or localized muscle and joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness.
Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by reoccurring ulcerations, and includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Symptoms include bleeding, weight loss, diarrhea, anemia and abdominal pain.
Interstitial Cystitis is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), bladder pain syndrome (BPS), and chronic pelvic pain. Symptoms include recurring pelvic pain, pressure, or discomfort in the bladder and/or pelvic region, and urinary frequency (needing to go often) and urgency (needing to go right away). The cause is not known but the symptoms can be debilitating.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Symptoms of an acute infection can include fever, headache, fatigue, and skin rash but the infection can also be completely asymptomatic.
In Multiple Sclerosis, an abnormal response of the body’s immune system is directed against myelin—the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers—as well as the nerve fibers themselves located in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Multiple Sclerosis symptoms are variable and unpredictable but can include fatigue, vision problems, spasticity, walking difficulties, numbness or tingling, weakness, pain, bladder problems, and cognitive changes.
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited disease characterized by retinal degeneration. In this condition, photoreceptor cells in the retina, known as rods and cones, die. Since these cells are responsible for capturing images, their destruction results in symptoms that include night blindness, central vision loss, and the inability to distinguish colors.
A stroke is also known as a “brain attack” and occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. Brain cells and tissue deprived of oxygen and nutrients will begin to die within minutes. Depending on the location and size of oxygen deprivation in the brain, a stroke can lead to small or very large motor, cognitive, and/or sensory deficits.
Ulcerative Colitis is a chronic disease of the large intestine, characterized by inflammation of its lining and the development of sores and ulcerations. An abnormal immune system response in which white blood cells misinterpret food and bacteria as invading substances, this condition is discomforting and can become painful. Symptoms include bloody stools, frequent bowel movements and debilitating abdominal pain.