Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen on Cartilage Regeneration

Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen on Cartilage Regeneration
Image Credit: Inova Newsroom 

“Wellness is not a ‘medical fix’ but a way of living – a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit, an approach to life we each design to achieve our highest potential for well-being now and forever.”

Greg Anderson

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

Competitive sports has gained in popularity in the past decade. As the business of sports grows, the pressure on athletes to perform increases, and the rate of injuries to athletes increases. Sports injuries have a variety of classifications, including damage to bones, tendons, muscles and cartilage. Articular cartilage damage in athletes is found to be linked to various root causes.[1] These causes include:

  1. Chronic repetitive loading of the articular cartilage
  2. Progressive articular cartilage degradation with accumulation of catabolic enzymes and cytokines
  3.  Fragmentation of collagen and aggrecan
  4.  Resulting fissuring and progressive breakdown of the articular surface. 

Once a sports injury occurs, the patient undergoes a treatment pattern that involves biological healing mechanisms that restore the body. These phases are: the inflammatory phase, the proliferative phase, and the remodeling phase.  

Medical studies have identified that hyperbaric oxygen is a key enabler in the acceleration of each of these phases of healing. Hyperbaric oxygen catalyzes various critical healing processes and enhances growth of new tissues in the musculoskeletal system. For minor damages, tissue is almost fully recoverable, while major damage may result in scar tissue formation due to collagen development. Collagen formation is often encountered during the healing of articular cartilage damage. 

As a result, repair of full-thickness defects in articular cartilage remains a medical challenge. The solution for this is to improve the quality of cartilage regeneration. Practices in tissue engineering have identified methods of improving cartilage growth, while minimising cartilage formation.

Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is one method that aims to achieve this objective. Via the administration of 100% oxygen at conditions that are greater than atmospheric pressure, the concentration of oxygen in the blood can be increased. 

The presence of oxygen catalyzes wound healing. While the mechanism of action of oxygen is still being elucidated, the benefits have been found to be worthwhile. Medical studies conducted in both animal and human trials, have identified that chondrocytes and fibroblast formation was enhanced. These two complexes enhance restoration in the body. At the right balance of oxygen to pressure, a peak healing rate can be achieved. 

Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen on Cartilage Regeneration 

Arthritis and osteoarthritis are classified as arthropathies, conditions that are related to the wear and tear of the musculoskeletal system, or due to immune system attacks on the body’s own tissues. A vast majority of the population experiences these two conditions. 

Hyperbaric oxygen has helped patients to restore cartilage growth, after degeneration via arthritic conditions. Hyperbaric oxygen enhances the synthesis and maturation of the collagen fiber, and enhances the integrity of the articular cartilage. There is also an immunomodulatory effect of utilising hyperbaric oxygen in arthritis treatment. The presence of hyperbaric oxygen is found to have a vasoconstrictor effect that reduces inflammation in the patient. The patient experiences less pain, and has an improved quality of life. Recovery and mobility are achieved after a successful treatment. 

Article References: 

  1. Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen on Proliferation and Gene Expression of Human Chondrocytes: An In Vitro Study : https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1947603518764281
  2. 5 benefits of the use of Hyperbaric Chamber in Arthritis and Arthrosis: https://www.biobarica.com/en/patients/news/5-benefits-of-the-use-of-hyperbaric-chamber-in-arthritis-and-arthrosis-RGwWpkG6A5KREBSGe932/

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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