Could a Hyperbaric Chamber Help Diabetics with Foot and Leg Ulcers?

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You may have heard of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) being used for scuba divers, as this therapy can help people suffering from decompression sickness. However, HBOT can be used as a therapy for a number of conditions. If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes, you may need to be on the lookout for foot ulcers. Take a look at why leg and foot ulcers are an issue and how HBOT could help.

Why Are Diabetics Prone to Foot and Leg Ulcers?

Some people with diabetes develop neuropathy, or nerve damage from heightened glucose levels. Because of nerve damage in the feet, some diabetics may develop injuries and not even notice them. These injuries can then turn into ulcers due to poor circulation and irritation—like pressure or friction from a shoe.

How Can Leg and Foot Ulcers Be Prevented and Treated?

Diabetics can prevent ulcers by checking their legs and feet daily and by taking pressure off of their feet with orthotics. People should visit their doctor as soon as they discover an issue. Doctors can debride and dress the wound and prescribe medication to prevent infection from taking hold.

How Can HBOT Help Your Ulcers?

Foot ulcers can damage the body's blood vessels, which in turn can cause tissues to swell. Swollen tissue can make it hard for damaged cells to receive adequate oxygen. HBOT can help by reducing the swelling and increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood. HBOT can improve the efficacy of white blood cells, thus preventing a growing infection. This therapy can also encourage the formation of collagen and new skin cells so that the ulcer can heal.

Who Could Benefit from Hypobaric Therapy?

While HBOT could help diabetics with foot ulcers, an article in Diabetes Care says that HBOT isn't necessary for people who have success with debridement, off-loading, or antimicrobials. However, if you have a refractory wound—or one that is chronic and not responding to treatment—then HBOT can help provide long-term healing. One study found that HBOT can help improve diabetic leg ulcers in patients with concomitant ischemia, or inadequate blood supply.

How Does Therapy Work?

Some hospitals may have hyperbaric rooms designed to accommodate a few people at a time, while smaller clinics may rent hyperbaric chambers intended for one person. Your doctor will have you dress in a hospital gown or scrubs. You'll need to remove any hair or skin products that are petroleum-based and leave items, like lighters, behind since they are a fire hazard. This therapy isn't painful, and you may end up taking a nap during your session. The air pressure in the room will be increased, so you may feel some fullness in your years; however, this can be relieved by swallowing or yawning. Once your session is done, your doctor will check your pulse, blood pressure, and blood glucose. If everything looks normal, you may be able to resume your daily activities. The number of HBOT sessions that you'll require depends on your foot/leg ulcer's healing times and your doctor's recommendations.

Reach out to a health and medical provider today for more details about hyperbaric chamber rental services