Systematic review| Volume 100, ISSUE 11, P2167-2178, November 2019

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Whole Body Vibration Exercise for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Published:April 17, 2019DOI:


      • We collected data on several types of chronic musculoskeletal disorders.
      • We identified the effectiveness of whole body vibration as treatment for chronic musculoskeletal pain.
      • Evidence suggests positive effects of whole body vibration exercise on chronic musculoskeletal pain.
      • Long durations of whole body vibration exercise could be more beneficial for chronic musculoskeletal pain.



      This study systematically reviews previous work on the effects of whole body vibration exercise (WBVE) on pain associated with chronic musculoskeletal disorders.

      Data Sources

      Seven electronic databases (PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, Cochrane, Physiotherapy Evidence Database [PEDro], and the China National Knowledge Infrastructure) were searched for articles published between January 1980 and September 2018.

      Study Selection

      Randomized controlled trials involving adults with chronic low back pain (CLBP), osteoarthritis (OA), or fibromyalgia were included. Participants in the WBVE intervention group were compared with those in the nontreatment and non-WBVE control groups.

      Data Extraction

      Data were independently extracted using a standardized form. Methodological quality was assessed using PEDro.

      Data Synthesis

      Suitable data from 16 studies were pooled for meta-analysis. A random effects model was used to calculate between-groups mean differences at 95% confidence interval (CI). The data were analyzed depending on the duration of the follow-up, common disorders, and different control interventions.


      Alleviation of pain was observed at medium term (standardized mean difference [SMD], -0.67; 95% CI, -1.14 to -0.21; I2, 80%) and long term (SMD, -0.31; 95% CI, -0.59 to -0.02; I2, 0%). Pain was alleviated in osteoarthritis (OA) (SMD, -0.37; 95% CI, -0.64 to -0.10; P<.05; I2, 22%) and CLBP (SMD, -0.44; 95% CI, -0.75 to -0.13; P<.05; I2, 12%). Long-term WBVE could relieve chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions of OA (SMD, -0.46; 95% CI, -0.80 to -0.13; P<.05; I2, 0%). WBVE improved chronic musculoskeletal pain compared with the treatment “X” control (SMD, -0.37; 95% CI, -0.61 to -0.12; P<.05; I2, 26%), traditional treatment control (SMD, -1.02; 95% CI, -2.44 to 0.4; P>.05; I2, 94%) and no treatment control (SMD, -1; 95% CI, -1.76 to -0.24; P<.05; I2, 75%).


      Evidence suggests positive effects of WBVE on chronic musculoskeletal pain, and long durations of WBVE could be especially beneficial. However, WBVE does not significantly relieve chronic musculoskeletal pain compared with the traditional treatment. Further work is required to identify which parameters of WBVE are ideal for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.


      List of abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), CLBP (chronic low back pain), OA (osteoarthritis), PEDro (Physiotherapy Evidence Database), RCT (randomized controlled trial), SMD (standardized mean difference), VAS (visual analog scale), WBV (whole body vibration), WBVE (whole body vibration exercise)
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