The Benefits of Vibration Healing

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Health benefits of vibration healing. mmatasic (Marko Matasic) / Getty Images

Vibration healing is an alternative therapy that involves using a mechanical vibration (administered through specialized equipment) to treat certain health problems or injuries. Also known as vibrational therapy or vibration training, vibration healing is used in a variety of health-care settings (including physical therapy, massage therapy, rehabilitation, and sports medicine).

Types of Vibration Healing

There are different types of vibration healing, including localized vibration therapy (in which vibration is delivered only to the area of the body in need of treatment) and whole body vibration (in which treatment is administered through use of a machine or chair that vibrates the entire body at once).

 

A number of health professionals use vibration healing in their practices. While massage therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and practitioners of bodywork are all known to practice vibration therapy, there is no licensure program for this modality.

Uses for Vibration Healing

In alternative medicine, vibration healing is said to aid in the treatment of these and other health conditions:

In addition, vibration healing is said to fight osteoporosis by protecting against loss of bone mineral density. Some proponents suggest that vibration healing can also help stimulate the lymphatic system, increase metabolism, regulate blood sugar, improve sports performance, aid in stroke recovery, and promote wound healing. 

Benefits of Vibration Healing

Although few large-scale clinical trials have tested the health effects of vibration healing, a number of studies suggest that it may offer a range of benefits.

Here's a look at several study findings on vibration healing:

1)  Bone Health

So far, research on the use of vibration healing in treatment or prevention of osteoporosis has yielded mixed results. In a 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, for instance, a 12-month-long clinical trial involving 202 postmenopausal women found that whole-body vibration failed to improve bone mineral density or bone structure.

Meanwhile, a number of small studies (including a 2013 clinical trial published in Clinical Interventions in Aging, which involved 28 postmenopausal women and a six-month treatment period) have found that whole-body vibration may help improve bone mineral density in the lumbar spine and other areas of the body.

2)  Fibromyalgia

A number of small studies have shown that vibration healing may aid in the treatment of fibromyalgia.

In a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2008, for example, patients who underwent a six-week treatment program that included both whole-body vibration and exercise therapy had significantly greater improvements in pain and fatigue (compared to those whose treatment program solely consisted of exercise therapy). The study involved a total of 36 women with fibromyalgia.

3)  Multiple Sclerosis

Vibration healing may benefit people with multiple sclerosis, according to a pilot study published in Clinical Rehabilitation in 2005. In a trial involving 12 patients with multiple sclerosis, those treated with whole-body vibration showed greater improvements in postural control and mobility (compared to patients assigned to a placebo treatment).

4)  Parkinson's Disease

A small study published in NeuroRehabilitation in 2009 indicates that vibration healing may be helpful to people with Parkinson's disease. In an experiment involving 40 patients with Parkinson's disease, researchers observed that whole-body vibration helped to improve motor control and functioning, as well as reduce rigidity and tremors.

5)  Tinnitus 

In a small study published in the International Tinnitus Journal in 2005, 15 patients with tinnitus experienced long-term improvements in their symptoms after undergoing vibration healing. 

Caveats

Although the long-term health effects of vibration healing are unknown (due to a lack of research), there's some concern that repeatedly undergoing vibration healing may lead to very small tears in muscles or fractures in bones.

If you're considering the use of vibration healing in treatment of a condition, make sure to consult your physician prior to undergoing the therapy.

Sources

Alentorn-Geli E, Padilla J, Moras G, Lázaro Haro C, Fernández-Solà J. "Six weeks of whole-body vibration exercise improves pain and fatigue in women with fibromyalgia." J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Oct;14(8):975-81.

Cormie P, Deane RS, Triplett NT, McBride JM. "Acute effects of whole-body vibration on muscle activity, strength, and power." J Strength Cond Res. 2006 May;20(2):257-61.

Goldstein BA, Lenhardt ML, Shulman A. "Tinnitus improvement with ultra-high-frequency vibration therapy." Int Tinnitus J. 2005;11(1):14-22.

King LK, Almeida QJ, Ahonen H. "Short-term effects of vibration therapy on motor impairments in Parkinson's disease." NeuroRehabilitation. 2009;25(4):297-306.

Lai CL1, Tseng SY1, Chen CN2, Liao WC3, Wang CH4, Lee MC5, Hsu PS6. "Effect of 6 months of whole body vibration on lumbar spine bone density in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial." Clin Interv Aging. 2013;8:1603-9.

Roelants M, Delecluse C, Goris M, Verschueren S. "Effects of 24 weeks of whole body vibration training on body composition and muscle strength in untrained females." Int J Sports Med. 2004 Jan;25(1):1-5.

Schuhfried O, Mittermaier C, Jovanovic T, Pieber K, Paternostro-Sluga T. "Effects of whole-body vibration in patients with multiple sclerosis: a pilot study." Clin Rehabil. 2005 Dec;19(8):834-42.

Slatkovska L, Alibhai SM, Beyene J, Hu H, Demaras A, Cheung AM. "Effect of 12 months of whole-body vibration therapy on bone density and structure in postmenopausal women: a randomized trial." Ann Intern Med. 2011 Nov 15;155(10):668-79, W205.

Totosy de Zepetnek JO, Giangregorio LM, Craven BC. "Whole-body vibration as potential intervention for people with low bone mineral density and osteoporosis: a review." J Rehabil Res Dev. 2009;46(4):529-42.

Von Stengel S, Kemmler W, Bebenek M, Engelke K, Kalender WA. "Effects of whole-body vibration training on different devices on bone mineral density." Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jun;43(6):1071-9.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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