Joint pain is a common occurrence for most people. The joints in the human body, quite literally, carry us through life. Whenever we walk, run, jump, or carry heavy objects, our joints are put under significant physical stress that can lead to severe damage. If left unattended, such trauma could lead to permanent loss of function.
While keeping our joints healthy and well-maintained seems like a simple task, finding the proper method can be challenging. We live in a time where medical treatments are a dime a dozen, yet finding an effective and reliable one can be akin to searching for a needle in a haystack.
One such option includes vibration therapy, which might not seem impressive even though it could have a great deal to offer to our joint health. With this article, we hope to enlighten you on what vibration therapy is and how it can be of benefit.
What is Vibration Therapy?
Vibration therapy was first created by a Russian physician named Gustav Zander in 1867 after completing a device that used weights and pulleys to sense vibration. However, the first medical use of the machines came when a doctor named John Kellogg made a similar apparatus in a vibrating chair that he used in his practice in 1895.
In the 155 years since then, vibration therapy has continued to evolve in chiropractic care and become a contemporary tool for tending to injuries and pain. However, you might be wondering what exactly vibration therapy entails.
The actual process of administering vibration therapy is pretty simple but can vary depending on how much of your body needs the treatment. There is whole-body vibration therapy designed to treat your entire body at once. When undergoing whole-body vibration therapy, you will either be lying or standing on a machine supported by a vibrating platform. The instructions will vary slightly depending on your provider’s instructions and the injuries or issues the therapy is meant to address.
Alternatively, localized vibration therapy will involve placing a handheld vibrating device on the afflicted area. So, if only your arm needs vibration therapy, the device will be attached to your arm for the session duration.
The way the vibrations work has to do with your muscles. The vibrations induced the contraction and relaxation of muscles, enabling you to relieve any tension and mitigate specific symptoms and pain. In some cases, the vibrations can also bolster your body’s production of osteoblasts, which are responsible for bone development.
The provider closely monitors the vibrations and controls the direction and strength of the pulses to ensure the desired results. Specific machines will only cause vertical vibrations, some omnidirectional, and some specifically meant to contract the muscles rather than relax them. The exact device will vary depending on your needs and the provider, though you will be hard-pressed to find a facility unable to offer the type of vibration therapy you will require.
That said, there remains a question of how vibration therapy can help with joint problems.
How Does Vibration Therapy Help?
Knowing how vibration therapy works and whether it effectively manages your joint problems are two very different things. In this case, knowing how vibration therapy can assist in managing the symptoms of joint pain or other joint issues is paramount to ensuring that vibration therapy is suitable for you. There have been reports of vibration therapy offering benefits like:
- Improved blood circulation.
- Reduced back and joint pain.
- Metabolic enhancement.
- Increased bone density.
- Increased muscle mass.
- Alleviation of stress.
However, we know you need more information than simple reports, and we are happy to oblige. Even when it comes to the information surrounding some of the lesser-known effects it has that can help in the battle against joint pain.
Believe it or not, one of the most significant parts of joint health has to do with your body weight, meaning those who are overweight are more prone to develop issues. This is because our joints maintain our flexibility and ability to move while also carrying all the weight associated with those actions. The heavier we are, the more strain there is on our joints.
While not one of the main benefits of vibration therapy, an unintended benefit is that vibration therapy can help you work off some excess weight that might be straining your joints. In 2019, a study review dedicated to this effect was conducted to determine the benefits of vibration therapy for weight loss. The review analyzed seven different studies encompassing a total subject pool of 280 participants. The net result was that whole-body vibration was shown to yield a significant amount of fat loss in the subjects, though it does appear that a little more research is needed to evaluate this benefit fully.
While weight loss is highly beneficial to making sure your joints are not overly strained, it is far from the sole reason vibration therapy should be considered. The most impressive part of vibration therapy’s effects is that it can mitigate the impact of arthritis and osteoporosis on the joints. These conditions are some of the most devastating diseases regarding joint health. However, there has been research into how effective vibration therapy can be in fighting off the effects and giving your joints time to recover. One such study was conducted to evaluate the benefits derived from whole-body vibration therapy on chronic knee osteoarthritis, which directly affects the joints in our legs.
The study took a sample pool that was divided into two groups, with the study group undergoing WBV and performing home exercises. In contrast, the control group solely performed the home exercises. The study took place over eight weeks, with 11 patients in each group completing the entire examination. After this period had elapsed, the subjects’ pain levels were measured. It was found that those in the study group receiving WBV experienced a significant reduction of pain induced by their osteoarthritis.
Another critical factor in vibration therapy is the effect, as mentioned above, it has on promoting the production of osteoblasts. This facilitates the healthier development of bones, strengthening your body’s ability to resist other forces. Healthy bones mean less friction around the joints and less overall pain. Additionally, the production of osteoblasts further helps to protect your body from the effects of conditions like arthritis that otherwise diminish the health of your bones and joints. Overall, WBV offers many benefits for maintaining your bodily health and the strength of your joints.
Finally, the relaxation and contraction of the muscles serve as a form of exercise that vastly enhances your overall muscle definition. While this might seem unrelated to the health of your joints, your muscles are crucial as they serve as a form of padding for the joints themselves. Specifically, muscles are the first line of defense for your joints against sudden impacts that would otherwise damage them. Therefore, the less muscle definition we have, the more vulnerable our joints become due to the diminished protection. This is why regular exercise is an important component of human health.
Additionally, improved muscle mass helps to protect the body against osteoarthritis further. Given the previous information about how osteoarthritis can severely impact our joint health, muscle definition is a secondary aegis against it. Vibration therapy causes our muscles to work even when we are not actively doing anything. As such, it can improve our overall muscle mass and definition with every session. Of course, vibration therapy is no substitute for a regular and well-established exercise regimen, but it can offer some short-term benefits.
While the benefits of vibration therapy are undoubtedly appealing, very little in this world comes without a catch. As for this specific avenue of treatment, knowing the caveats could be crucial to your health.
Does Vibration Therapy Carry Risks?
Even though the risk is a part of life, it does not mean you should charge headlong into anything without weighing them against the rewards. When it comes to medical or chiropractic treatments, there is very little that does not carry some potential downside that could negatively affect your health. While not invasive, vibration therapy has some potential danger if it is not administered correctly or if you are in a particular state. The vast majority of risks that can arise from vibration therapy can only be born of negligence on the provider’s part. If you are receiving the treatment from a reliable provider, you will find no risk.
Strictly speaking, the only genuine threat from vibration therapy comes from too intense vibrations. The vibrations used to treat your issues control the rate at which your muscles contract, and if they contract too rapidly, it risks causing severe damage to your lumbar region. This is why the administrator of the vibration therapy needs to be well trained and able to properly monitor the level of the pulses to ensure that they are strong enough to help but not so strong as to damage your back. There is little evidence to suggest that vibration therapy is dangerous if you seek treatment from a reputable provider.
That said, certain unrelated conditions might otherwise preclude you from being able to enjoy vibration therapy. For example, your doctor might advise against it if you:
- Are on blood thinners.
- Suffer from advanced diabetes.
- Suffer from heart disease.
- Are currently pregnant.
If you fall under these categories, vibration therapy could be considered unsafe. They compromise your health and make you weaker or more sensitive to blood flow alterations. The latter is a common effect of vibration therapy as your muscles relax and contract accordingly. So, suppose you are considering taking advantage of vibration therapy’s benefits. It might be wise to consult with your primary care provider beforehand to ensure that you are not at risk.
This information prepares you for what you can expect the first time you set foot into a vibration therapist’s clinic. After that, the only natural step left is finding a practitioner you can count on to administer the procedure.
Take Your Health to the Next Level
Vibration therapy has quite a lot to offer for joint health while also addressing other health concerns with the same efficiency. It improves muscle mass, strengthens bones, and improves overall flexibility. It is not a perfect medium for recovery or health maintenance, but it is effective enough to make it a valuable tool for chiropractic and physical health care. Since its inception, vibration therapy has grown and is nearing the level of respect that other physical treatments of a similar nature have cultivated.
Unfortunately, despite its age, the research behind it is woefully lacking, but the manifested results are proving to be too promising to discount. However, it is important to ensure that the provider of your vibration therapy is qualified and well-versed in its nuances to avoid unpleasant risks.
At Ortho Integrative, we can offer a vibration therapy program that provides a full range of benefits. Everything from the development of muscle mass to pain management is a goal of our program, and it is guided by the professional hand of licensed doctors like Emmett Blahnik. Vibration therapy is just one of many services we offer to help improve your physical health in a time when it can so quickly go awry.
We know it is always a little daunting to approach any new provider regarding your physical health, and we want to make it clear that there is nothing we value more than our patients’ safety. So, if you are interested in trying out vibration therapy for your needs, check out our website and see how we can take your health to the Next Level!
Do you or a loved one have any questions or concerns about vibration therapy? Was there anything that we mentioned in this article that you would like a little more clarification on? If you answered yes to either of these questions, please feel free to reach out and contact us at any time! We would be more than happy to clear up any concerns you may have, and answer any of your potential questions!