A Jiggly Mess of a Treatment for Low Back Pain Gets a Permissive Nod From Those Who Should Know Better

P-p-p-p-pass on this; it looks like p-p-p-patent therapy

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Editor’s Note: Sometimes at CORRelations, we’ll cover an article we think is likely to cross your desk, but is one whose message we have reservations about. Here’s one. — SSL

What’s the Claim?

We don’t normally cover things that look like hokum, but here’s one that is getting some press: vibration therapy for low back pain. Don’t believe the hype. But first, the study. An uncritical meta-analysis concluded that vibration therapy resulted in statistical improvements in VAS and numeric pain scores, as well as the Oswestry dysfunction index (ODI) score and the Roland-Morris dysfunction questionnaire (RMDQ) score.

The hype? Favorable coverage in OrthoEvidence (“The current literature on vibration therapy suggests a potential advantage in clinical outcomes over other conservative treatments for the management of chronic low back pain”) and even a mention on the Mayo Clinic patient-facing website (“Some research shows that whole-body vibration, when performed correctly and under medical supervision when needed, can reduce back pain”). And, of course, improbable suggestions of efficacy backed by, ahem, speculative suggestions about its putative mechanisms of action on too many pain clinic websites to count (including this gem: “This passive therapy method uses a mechanical force to increase blood flow to the areas of your body that need it for healing and correction”).

So what's the problem? Where do we begin?

How’s It Stack Up?