By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Whole body vibration therapy has been studied in several chronic pain conditions including fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is a widespread pain condition that leads to long term pain along with other features including fatigue, sleep disturbance, cognitive changes, and physical symptoms including irritable bowel syndrome, headaches etc.
The condition affects 3 to 5% of the American population and is much more prevalence among females than in males.
Vibration therapy compared to exercise
One study investigated the effectiveness of a 6-week traditional exercise course comparing it with supplementary whole-body vibration therapy.
While traditional exercises included aerobic activities, stretching, and relaxation techniques performed twice a week (90 min/day), the group that received vibration therapy followed up the exercises with vibration.
There was a group of patients who received only the exercise programme without the vibrations and a group that did not receive either therapy.
After six weeks of this regimen the patients were rated according to their pain, fatigue, stiffness, and depression scores.
Results showed that there was a significant reduction in scores for pain and fatigue with vibration therapy but little improvement in stiffness and depression scores.
Tilting body vibration therapy
There have been additional studies that explored the ability of tilting body vibration therapy in improving the overall stability and well as front to back stability and balance among women patients with fibromyalgia.
After 12 weeks of tilting body vibrations, nearly 60% of patients improved in their overall stability while nearly two thirds (66.6%) improved on their anterior-posterior body stability. This vibration therapy tends to improve balance among fibromyalgia patients.
Yet another study on post menopausal women with fibromyalgia showed that side to side balance also improved with whole body vibration therapy both when patients were assessed with their eyes open and closed. This could have a significant impact clinically in reducing the number of falls seen in this population.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
Last Updated: Aug 5, 2013