Vibration Therapy for Osteoporosis
Bone Density Improvement
According to International Osteoporosis Foundation, in the US, 55% of the people aged 50 and older has low bone mass or osteoporosis issue, especially women. It mostly starts without being noticed until fracture happens. Fracture often happens at the crucial femur bones at the hip region.
When human body starts to break down more bone cells than making new ones to replace, the bones become porous – osteoporosis, and its density decreases. This is called bone loss.
Aging, medical conditions, medical procedures and medicine could be the causes of bone loss.
Once developed, bone loss is difficult to reverse. Hormone and physical exercise are used to prevent and treat bone loss.
Prevention is the best strategy.
Vibration therapy may bring a good hope to the bone loss population.
Many scientific researches and clinical trials have been conducted to study the mechanism and efficacy of using vibration therapy to treat osteoporosis. Some randomized, controlled trials have provided quantitative support of BMD (bone mineral density) increase related to using vibration machine.
Due to the differences of study designs and the extended period of time needed for results, clinical trials have not turned out very consistent results.
Mechanical Stimulation for Bone Growth
Bone is living tissue.
Old bone cells constantly break down and new bone cells are generated for the replacement.
At a young age, our system keeps sending signals and hormone to make more bone cells. As we get older, this process slows down. Making it worse are certain medical conditions and medicines further speed up bone loss situation.
Mechanical stimulation, at a certain magnitude, can promote body system to make more bone cells.
A simple truth is that if bone does not get used (stimulated), it will get deteriorated.
Studies have found that muscle strength training is effective to stimulate bone growth, while other forms of physical exercises are not as effective.
The underline reason is that muscle strength training provides the needed magnitude of mechanical stimulation for bone growth. Compared with other forms of physical exercise, muscle strength training requires skeleton muscle to contract more forcefully, creating higher tension on the connecting bone and promote bone cell generating.
Vibration – A High Magnitude Stimulation
Through inducing skeletal muscle contraction, vibration can create a unique mechanical stimulation on bones.
Because of its dynamic acceleration movement, vibration can induces very high pulse muscle contraction force. The hypothesis is that vibration induced muscle contracting force may certify the required stimulation magnitude to promote body system to generate more new bone cells.
The high magnitude contracting force induced by vibration is in a form of continuously repeated short pules. Each pulse last only a fraction of second. Even at a higher magnitude, the force in such a form does not stress the skeletomuscular system. Science studies have not found side effect of vibration therapy.
The unique pattern of skeletal muscle contraction induced by vibration differentiates its stimulation from all other forms of stimulations. That is the reason that so many scientists are studying how to use this special stimulation to treat bone loss.
Many studies turned out positive findings. On the other side, vibration therapy users have widely reported positive result on bone health improvement.
Scientists are also studying vibration therapy in cellular process and molecular mechanism that make stem cell to bone cell conversion. It will take even longer time to understand the process and mechanism, but most scientists consider using vibration's unique mechanical stimulation for bone generation is promising.
A major benefit of using vibration therapy is that the high pulse mechanical stimulation can be achieved with less training load compared to achieving the same magnitude using regular muscle strength training.
Also the pulse pattern makes vibration training safe to use. For daily exercise, vibration training is more efficient than regular physical training for skeletomuscular system exercise.
In related studies, scientists support vibration therapy improving muscle strength and balance, which is also beneficial for bone loss patients. Bone loss is a hard-to-treat disease. Patience, persistence and observation are essential to successfully use vibration therapy.
References & Further Reading
- Is Vibration Training Good for Your Bones?
- By Jorge Marin-Puyalto, Alba Gomez-Cabello, Alejandro Gonzalez-Agüero, Alejandro Gomez-Bruton, Angel Matute-Llorente, Jose A Casajús, German Vicente-Rodríguez PubMed.gov | PMID: 30519579
- Vibration Therapy to Prevent Bone Loss and Falls: Mechanisms and Efficacy
- By Belinda R Beck PubMed.gov | PMID: 26456496
- Effect of 6-month whole body vibration training on hip density, muscle strength, and postural control in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled pilot study
- By Sabine M P Verschueren, Machteld Roelants, Christophe Delecluse, Stephan Swinnen, Dirk Vanderschueren, Steven Boonen PubMed.gov | PMID 15040822
- Jay Tang
Interpreting life science from a mechanical engineering perspective.