Vibration therapy, also known as vibration healing, is the use of mechanical vibration to supposedly prevent, treat and promote recovery from a variety of physical ailments, including pain, sports injuries and bone density loss. Whole-body vibration therapy is applied for more systemic complaints. A patient stands on a machine or sits in a chair that vibrates. Many physical therapists for professional athletes use vibration therapy to decrease the recovery time after an injury. However, evidence of benefit is currently unclear.
In a new study, 30 postmenopausal women with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group participated in exercise training twice weekly as well as whole-body vibration therapy three days weekly. The second group participated in the same exercise program twice weekly, but did not participate in any whole-body vibration therapy. Muscle strength and balance were measured at the beginning of the study and then again after six weeks.
The researchers found that women who received whole-body vibration therapy had significant improvements in balance after six weeks when compared to the women who did not participate in vibration therapy. However, the authors noted that no significant improvements were found for strength.
The authors concluded that whole-body vibration therapy may improve balance for women with fibromyalgia. Addition research is necessary to further understand these findings.
Fibromyalgia is a complex, disabling and chronic (long-term) condition characterized by widespread long-term pain, fatigue and stiffness in the muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as multiple tender points (places on the body where slight pressure causes pain). In addition to muscular pain and fatigue, fibromyalgia may also be associated with sleep problems, depression and an inability to think clearly.
The cause of fibromyalgia is unclear. Fibromyalgia is believed to be the result of central nervous system malfunction, resulting in amplification of pain transmission and detection. Researchers believe that several factors, including sleep disturbances, stress, family history of fibromyalgia, infection, injury, abnormalities in the nervous system and changes in muscle metabolism, may lead to the development of fibromyalgia.
For more information about integrative therapies for fibromyalgia, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.
For more information about vibration therapy, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.