Vibration Therapy For Fibromyalgia
Whenever were in pain, rubbing or massaging the achy area is a natural instinct. But now scientists have discovered that a different kind of touch, in the form of vibrations, can actually reduce the intensity of fibromyalgias pain by as much as40 percent.
Researchers at the University of Florida first applied pain-inducing heat to the forearms of participants, many of whom had fibromyalgia; some had only neck and head pain. The researchers then used a special motor to deliver a high-frequency vibration to the skin and deep tissues of the arm to see whether that would relieve the pain. It did. In fact, patients experienced 40 percent reduction in pain when the vibration was applied.
This is the first time a non-painful stimulus has been found to have such a beneficial effect in fibromyalgia patients. The vibration truly represents an analgesic effect, said Dr. Roland Staud, a professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology in the University of Florida of Medicine, and the head of the study. The findings are described online and in an upcoming print edition of the European Journal of Pain.
However, researchers arent exactly sure why vibration works. Do the vibrations cause a real change in the pain signals being transmitted to the central nervous system? In the past, results from various types of animal studies, including brain studies, have suggested that.
The scientists also wondered whether vibrations were just a distraction to take the volunteers mind off their discomfort. It turns out that about half of the participants were, in fact, distracted by the vibration. Further studies are in order, but for now, it seems hopeful that fibromyalgia patients may one day find pain relief in good vibrations.
Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates.
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