Pain alleviation by vibratory stimulation, Lundeberg et al, The Journal of Pain, 1984
This study looks at 366 patients who were suffering acute or chronic musculoskeletal pain of different origins that were treated with vibratory stimulation for the pain. Many of the patients had previously had treatments of various kinds without satisfactory relief. The effect of vibratory stimulation was assessed during and after stimulation using a graphic rating scale. The results showed that 69% of the patients reported a reduction of pain using vibratory stimulation.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of vibratory stimulation in patients suffering from musculoskeletal pain. A total of 366 patients were studied. The patients suffered with a variety of disorders. Many of the patients suffered with lateral epicondylitis.
The study not only looked at the efficacy of vibratory stimulation for pain but also looked at the duration of treatment and also the stimulation frequency. The study also compared TENS, which is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, versus vibratory stimulation.
The results showed that vibratory stimulation reduced the pain that patients suffered from. In the patients who had lateral epicondylitis the vibratory stimulation reduced their pain significantly. The effect of vibratory stimulation was compared against placebo and the results showed that the long term pain reduction was not due to placebo effects.
Different stimulation frequencies were measured. The best pain reducing effect, ie a greater than 50% reduction in pain, was obtained with a 100 to 200Hz stimulation. Frequencies over 200Hz caused a discomforting radiating sensation, whilst stimulation at frequencies below 50Hz had no significant pain reducing effect in most patients.
The study showed effectiveness of vibratory stimulation in the treatment of pain. It proposed that this effect was due to activity in the large diameter sensory fibres which interacted with the impulse transmission in pain pathways, thereby alleviating pain.
In summary, the results of this paper showed that vibratory stimulation relieved the pain in about 70% of patients. The paper also showed that vibratory stimulation can easily be self-administered by the patients and used for long term home treatment. The paper showed that the best pain reducing frequencies were found between 50 and 200Hz.