Whole-body Vibration For Improving Bone Density--a Short-term Study

I often have patients ask me about using whole-body vibration as adjunct therapy for his or her low bone density. If he or she is physically capable of engaging in an exercise program, my answer is that I would rather they go for walks, do coordination exercises, and use light weights to gain strength. If, on the other hand, they are physically unable to exercise then using a vibration platform may be of benefit.

The usefulness of whole-body vibration for treating osteoporosis is still in question. Several studies have demonstrated its benefits while others have not. A recent study out of Spain does not support its usefulness at least when used short-term.

In a study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Gomez-Cabello et al. assessed 49 elderly men and women (vibration and control groups) for changes in bone mineral density after using a whole-body vibration platform 3 times per week for 11 weeks. They concluded that "short-term whole body vibration therapy is not enough to cause any changes on bone mineral content or bone mineral density and it only produces a slight variation on bone structure among elderly people."

Gomez-Cabello, A., et al. 2013. Effects of a short-term whole body vibration intervention on bone mass and structure in elderly people. J Sci Med Sport May 24 [Epub ahead of print].