What is Hyperbaric Therapy?

What is Hyperbaric Therapy?

A long time ago, scientists discovered that a gas under pressure is easily absorbed by liquid. In hyperbaric therapy, a person rests in an enclosed chamber where air is pushed in with a compressor thus increasing pressure in the chamber above the outside atmospheric pressure. The added pressure in and around the body, allows oxygen (as a gas) to dissolve into the blood, cells, and interstitial fluids (the liquids) of the body.

By dramatically increasing the amount of absorbed oxygen in the body, hyperbaric therapy helps speed up the healing process. Healing is a metabolic function which simply means that cells have the ability to heal in the right environment and with the right tools. Oxygen is a vital tool to healing. The more oxygen available, the more efficient the cell can work. Just like an engine needs a good flow of clean air, so do our cells. The more oxygen available, the more efficient the cell will work. For an injured cell or tissue, this means that the more oxygen, the quicker it will heal!

Check out our Roseville Hyperbaric Center Blog: http://RosevilleHyperbaric.wordpress.com

RHC LogoSmall Hyperbaric Chamber

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

I took the time today to spend an hour in my hyperbaric oxygen tank. I have decided to take at least one hour a week to decompress (or really compress if you are being literal). The benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are vast. Ultimately though, it comes down to a very simple concept.

If you think of the cells of our bodies like little engines the analogy is easy to grasp. There are two major things that make the engine work. It needs fuel and it needs oxygen to burn the fuel. The more oxygen the quicker it will burn the fuel.

We have plenty of fuel in our bodies but we have a limited amount of oxygen that we can take into the cells of our bodies. The reason for the shortage is because oxygen gets into the cells by piggybacking on red blood cells. We have a limited number of red blood cells in the body at any given time. (If you want more spend some time in high altitude where the body will adapt to the decreased available oxygen in the air by creating more red blood cells). Red blood cells also have a certain number of oxygen molecules that can bind to it. Oxygen binds to red blood cells in the lungs and then oxygen is transported to the cells of the body.

This is where hyperbaric comes in. If you increase pressure you can dissolve oxygen into liquid. So, all of the oxygen in the air around us and in the body, but not in the cells, can now be transferred into the cells. More oxygen in the cells equals faster burning motors.

So what? When cells burn quicker we observe things we wouldn’t normally see. For example, in children with Autism new brain patterns develop. In stroke victims, oxygen can reach the damaged area and start the healing process. Athletes use is it to recover from the stress, strain and injuries inflicted upon them. The list of benefits goes on. We have seen success with MS, stroke, autisms, chronic fatigue, injury recovery, recovery from chemotherapy, lyme disease, cerebral palsy, wound that wouldn’t heal, and so much more.

Chiropractic and the 3 Main Causes of Vertigo

vertigoIt could be the late cold season or a rampant allergy season, but I have had several patients come  in with vertigo this month. If you do not know what vertigo is, lucky you! If you have experienced the nauseating feeling of being on solid ground while your brain is telling you that the tilt-a-whirl is in full force, then you know that vertigo can seriously affect your life. Vertigo is described as a feeling of being stable while objects around you are spinning. The three systems that can cause vertigo, in order of most common to least, are the inner ear, the neck, and the brain stem.

  1. The Inner Ear has a complex system of tiny hairlike sensors, called cilia, that send information to the brain based on the movement of fluid through a maze of canals. When there is in an increase of fluid in the inner ear or the fluid gets too thick and mucousy, it affects the movement of the cilia, and can cause vertigo. This is common with inner ear infections, colds, flus, hay fever, and sinus infections. Drainage is critical to success in treating vertigo caused by inner ear congestion. Chiropractic adjustments help loosen the muscles in the neck which allows for freer lymph flow and better drainage. In addition, cranial adjustments can help pump the congested sinus and promote drainage. Drinking plenty of water will also help to thin the mucous which will help is drain.
  2. The Neck, especially the top two vertebrae called the atlas and the axis, respectively, have sensors in the joints called proprioceptors. Proprioceptors relay position to the brain.  They are found in all joints but the nerves in the neck are particularly sensitive to head movement. When these vertebrae do not move as they should, they send a mixed signal which can make the brain feel like the body is moving when it is not. Again, chiropractic adjustments will help reset proprioceptors which will restore the proper flow of position sense, thereby halting the vertigo.
  3. Brain Stem Dysfunction is by far the least treatable of the three. In general, brain injuries are extremely slow to heal. Depending on the nature of the injury, there is little hope of treatment save time and prayer. I have no empirical evidence, but I would imagine that hyperbaric therapy could be helpful. Chiropractic adjustments will not directly help but keeping the body and nervous system functioning well is always beneficial.

If you are suffering with vertigo, there are some easy, non-invasive tests to figure out which system is causing the symptoms. Treatment is effective and we usually see results pretty quickly in most cases.

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Surgery or No?

Two and a half months ago I injured my knee playing soccer. It was a  non-contact injury. My left knee caught in the turf, buckled and popped. I went down and then limped off the field. I though it was the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and that it would take some time to heal without surgery. So, I set about trying to reduce the inflammation.

To help with the inflammation, I began icing it 20 minutes at a time, 2-3 times per day. I used several ice packs wrapped around my knee and held tight by straps. In addition, I was going into my hyperbaric chamber several times a week, doing cryotherapy at US Cryotherapy here in Roseville, getting it adjusted and doing cold laser treatments. After two months, the swelling was still really bad and the flexibility had only increased a little.

As far as pain is concerned, I haven’t had that much. When it first happened it hurt but I could still limp off the field, drive myself home, limp into the drug store and buy a brace. The lack of pain concerned me a bit because I  have been taught that a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is not as painful. I tend to have a pretty high pain threshold so I just figured that was the reason. It would get achy and tender, in general, and certain motions would give me a sharp pain but everything was bearable. I wore a brace while working for a few weeks then switched to kinesio tape. After a while both of those things were really irritating me and I went without either without much trouble. Through it all I maintained a pretty rigorous schedule adjusting around 300 patients per week.

A few weeks ago I finally decided that there was something more serious going on and I decided to get an MRI. The results caught me like an upper cut. According to the report, I have a completely torn ACL and tears in both menisci. The tears in the menisci are likely to heal on their own. They are in what is known as the “red zone” which means it has a good blood supply and should heal. Plus they are vertical tears which don’t usually cause much trouble. The torn ACL is another matter.

So, here is my dilemma. I am a researcher by nature. I want to know options. I am not opposed to doing what is conventional but I still want to hear the arguments on both sides. So far, here is what I know. By far, the overwhelming recommendation is surgery. This entails using a piece of the patient’s tendon from a number of sources or using a cadaver tendon. The recovery mostly requires time. No one who has had the surgery that I have talked to feels like they can perform at the same level as before but plenty have said that  they can still do a lot of things they love.

On the flip side, there are a lot of people out there who, for one reason or another never reconstructed their ACL. My best friend, who is an ER medical doctor, is one of them. I have read studies where the outcomes for doing surgery vs. not doing surgery are pretty similar save for a moderately increased risk of doing damage to the menisci. I can make a really strong case for not doing surgery just on the fact that anytime you have surgery you are introducing another traumatic event. Combine that with the general risks of going under anesthesia, the risks of infections, and complications with recovery and I am pretty convinced that I could live without and ACL. I have been walking around for several weeks without an ACL, anyway. I am not going back to playing soccer any time soon with or without surgery. And, I have really good muscle strength around my knee. The argument is valid.

That saying, I am scheduled for surgery on the 7th of June. The argument to have it reconstructed won out despite my firm belief that I could definitely live without my ACL. My surgeon, Dr. Kevin Hanson of Roseville Orthopedics handled it perfectly. When I spoke with him he gave me options but made it known that in his opinion I would be much happier in the long run with a more stable knee. He also said something that changed my whole attitude. Before I spoke to him, I was assuming weeks to months off of work. Not only would that have really hurt financially but I think I would go crazy. I am not one who is accustomed to sitting around. Dr. Hanson informed me that I could bear weight whenever I felt I could based on pain. Ergo, I could feasibly go back to work within a week without risking damage to the knee. For me, this was huge!

The other conversation that really pushed me over the edge was with my best friend who has been walking around without an ACL since tearing it in medical school 12 years ago. He told me that every time he tries to play any sport his knee gives out and swells and he is laid up for 3 days. At first I was looking to him as an example for not getting the surgery. After speaking with him, I was pretty convinced to have the procedure done. Now the question is how long do I need off?

Concussions

While listening to sports talk radio the other day, the topic of Sidney Crosby came up. For those who don’t know, Sid the Kid has been one of the best, if not the best, player in professional hockey since he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins into the NHL in 2005. He won a gold metal for Canada at the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the Stanley Cup in 2009. However, no one is talking about Sid’s accomplishments right now. His career is in jeopardy due to a concussion he sustained back in the 2010-2011 season that has kept him sidelined for all but a few games where he tried to come back only to have his symptoms return.

Anyone who has played hockey or any other physical sport has at least seen someone get a concussion. It doesn’t take much. Football has tried to make safer helmets and create rules that severely penalize hits to the head. Prevention is noble but if you ask anyone who has played sports, it is going to happen no matter how cautious. The more important question to me is how to treat it when it does happen. Time and avoiding another blow to the head are the recommendations these days. I think there is more we can do.

The brain, by all accounts, is a slow healer. As a pattern, tissue that has a limited or controlled blood supply is difficult to heal. Blood and brain tissue has to be controlled because blood is very toxic to nervous tissue hence the poor healing capacity. The reason blood is important in healing is because oxygen is a necessary component to healing. Oxygen is needed to burn the fuel in the form of glucose to give the cells energy to repair itself.

If more oxygen to the brain is the solution, then we have an effective remedy: hyperbaric therapy. In a hyperbaric chamber pressure is used to help oxygen saturate into the liquids of the body and can therefore easily cross the cell membrane and be used by the cell. In the brain this is especially effective because it also allows oxygen to cross the blood/brain barrier that is an extra protection for the brain and other nerves. More oxygen will allow the brain to actually heal.

Now, I realize that most people have not have ever heard of a hyperbaric chamber let alone know where to find one. Doesn’t it make sense, though, with all of the concern about concussions that we push for a treatment with a track record of success?

Chiropractic and the Healing Process

In this world of instant gratification, realistic expectations are often scarce. We have instant coffee, fast food, automatic deposit, etc. We demand results quickly and for most things we get them. Unfortunately, healing is not an instantaneous event. It takes time. Don’t get me wrong. I am as impatient as anyone. I like to see or experience improvement quickly. However, when it comes to healing, there is still a process.

This article was written to help you understand the healing process and what to expect on your road to recovery.

The healing process has several stages. They can be broken down into three major steps:

1. Inflammation: Whenever an injury occurs there is damage to tissue. Tissue damage causes a reaction in the body that brings chemicals to take care of the damage. It causes swelling which keeps the affected area from moving too much. The reaction also generates heat, hence the term. I like to compare inflammation to firefighters putting out a fire. They arrive quickly and start shooting water onto the fire. Though necessary, often times the damage from the water is just as bad as the damage from the fire itself. This is even more true of inflammation. If not taken care of quickly, inflammation will begin to destroy the good tissue and cause a host of other problems. For this reason, ice is a powerful tool. Controlling the swelling with compression and an anti-inflammatory diet can also be very valuable.

2. Scar Tissue Repair: After a 2-6 days of inflammation, the body starts to lay down scar tissue. Scar tissue is weak and it complicated by the fact that it is laid down quickly and haphazardly. To further the analogy of a home damaged by fire, imagine a crew going in after the water has mostly dried and quickly supporting the overall structure with whatever wood they can find. They make it more stable than it was but it is not as functional and it is certainly not as stable. Scar tissue is supposed to be a temporary process that takes 6 weeks to 6 months depending on the damage. Unfortunately, many people do not do what it takes to get beyond this stage. As a result, they easily tear the scar tissue and the process starts again. This is the cause of chronic injury.

3. Remodeling of Tissue: When scar tissue starts to act like the original tissue, the remodeling process has begun. It is critical to get to this stage if true healing is to occur. This stage can last for a long time. For some tissues, like the nervous system, the process can be so slow it is almost imperceptible. For such tissues, support therapies like hyperbaric can help. In joint,  muscle, bone, ligament, tendon, etc., proper motion and function dictate this process. You have to train the scar tissue to line up all in the same direction and act like and be in sync with the surrounding tissue. Only at this point will true healing occur.

Unrelated topic: when you make a comment on this blog, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win free chiropractic care for April.

Would You Take Advice From your Doctor about Car Problems?

I was talking with a patient last week who had just come from her oncologist. To help with the side effects of chemotherapy and to help fight off the cancer cells, she has been doing hour long sessions in my hyperbaric chamber 2-3 times per week. Her energy has been remarkable during chemo. Very little fatigue. One would never know she even had cancer and was on chemo. By the way, she is in her late 70’s.

During her conversation with her oncologist, he told her that she could stop doing the hyperbaric chamber. She shared this with me to which I responded, “Did he give you advice about your car, as well?” She laughed and said, “Of course not.”
Here is my point. I have no doubt that this oncologist is an expert in treating cancer with medicine and that he cares for his patients. I am sure he knows much more than I do about cancer. I am also sure, based on previous comments he has made, that he knows very little about hyperbaric oxygen therapy. So why does he feel compelled to give medical recommendation on something he knows nothing about for a procedure being performed by another doctor?

Mesothelioma Pain Management through Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is typically administered to treat and prevent pain and disorders pertaining to the musculoskeletal system that controls the body’s movement, including the spine. However, it is often sought as a form of alternative medicine and complementary care to coincide with traditional medical treatments.

In order to help manage pain and relieve headaches, tension and stress, many cancer patients have included chiropractic care in their course of treatment. Patients interested in alternative treatment, who strongly believe in the body’s ability to heal itself, may find chiropractic care particularly appealing. Alleviating severe headaches and movement pains during cancer treatment may make the treatment process more comfortable for cancer patients, including those fighting mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is mainly cause by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used in a number of military and industrial applications throughout the 20th century. The symptoms typically take 20 to 50 years to become noticeable and by this time the disease is usually in advanced stages. Treatment options are often limited as the cancer is diagnosed late in development.

Two studies published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics examined the cases of two patients combating cancer. A 57-year-old man diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer experienced significant pain relief and was able to reduce the amount of medication needed following chiropractic care. He also reported an increase in his quality of life during his journey with the cancer following a visit to a chiropractor.

A 54-year-old man diagnosed with lung cancer (a cancer sometimes linked to asbestos exposure) began seeing a chiropractor after experiencing little pain relief one year after he underwent surgery to combat his cancer. The man experienced pain relief immediately after beginning chiropractic care and discontinued use of all pain medications after two visits to his chiropractor. The Journal noted, “These clinical examples offer two specific instances of how chiropractic may improve the quality of a cancer patient’s life.”

Note: Though I am not the author of this blog post, I fully endorse its message and the benefits of chiropractic for patients suffering from mesothelioma. I would also add that in my office we have seen great success helping people who are suffering from a variety of cancers and their subsequent treatment protocols (radiation, chemotherapy, etc.) with both chiropractic and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. –Dr. Thomas

Venting

The title is meant to be a pun. If you have ever been in a hyperbaric chamber you will get the joke. I find humor a good way to calm down my anger towards idiocy.

I posted about the hyperbaric chamber yesterday and now I am going to vent about some mis-information out there. I operate a mild pressure chamber as opposed to a high pressure chamber. I went with the mild pressure because it does everything that a high pressure chamber does but was much cheaper to purchase and operate and much much safer.

I have gotten a few calls lately and it is very clear that there are some individuals with an interest involved saying that mild hyperbaric therapy has no value. They are obviously saying it loud enough that people are scared and need to be educated.

First of all, what makes hyperbaric therapy work is in the pressure that drives ambient oxygen (the oxygen in and around the body but not in the cells) into the cells. It is not in the oxygen you breath in. In fact, breathing in pure or concentrated oxygen only improves the treatment slightly. Secondly, pressure is pressure. The old riddle what weighs more a pound of feathers or a pound of lead applies here. The answer is they are the same. It doesn’t matter whether there is a soft wall (which is not so soft when it is pressurized) or a hard wall be glass, metal, or whatever.

The only difference between a high pressure chamber and a mild pressure chamber is in the name. High pressure chambers can go up to a much higher pressure than mild pressure. Since I am mostly interested in dealing with brain and nervous system healing and repair, which research has shown to be more beneficial at lower pressure and not 100% oxygen. In fact, the clinics working with kids on the Autistic Spectrum and other brain issues only go up to about 1.3 ATA. The chamber I operate goes up that high as well.

It drives me crazy that professionals are out there preaching that if a little is good a lot is much better when the research is pretty clear. For additional information check out this link to an article written by Julie Buckley, MD.

What’s In a Name?

So, I am sitting at my desk on a rainy morning anticipating the morning rush. I have a new patient in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and the patient I had scheduled at this time to receive her report of finding called in to postpone due to the flu.

In my suddenly open schedule I determined to start a blog. But, what do I name it? I had a blog before but the name was not only too long but apparently too obscure. Nobody got it. To add insult to injury had a glitch where I couldn’t edit or add pictures. But, in the name of persistence and an outlet for my ideas on health I have tried again.

This time the name I came up with is “Optimal Health.” I use this phrase quite often through the day. I believe the pursuit of optimal health should be one of our top priorities. God gave us these bodies, shouldn’t we take care of them as best as we can?

This name also gives me an opportunity to discuss many aspects of health and health care. By the way, I am open to any suggestions for topics that I can research.

Here it goes!