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Posted by on Jun 27, 2016 in Rheumatoid Arthritis | 1 comment

In a nutshell

This study investigated the effectiveness of whole body vibration therapy in females with active rheumatoid arthritis. The authors concluded that this therapy can improve functional ability, preserve bone mass and decrease fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. 

Some background

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can experience on-going pain, swollen joints and a limited ability to carry out daily tasks. Limited mobility can lead to a reduction in bone mass and bone mineral density (BMD), which is a measure of calcium and other minerals in the bones (an indicator of bone strength). All of these factors lead to a more inactive lifestyle and a reduced quality of life for RA patients.

Physical exercise has already proven to be an effective therapy for RA. These exercises are not always possible for patients depending on their level of mobility. Whole body vibration (WBV) has been suggested as a possible alternative to these exercises. This involves standing on a platform that sends vibrations through the feet, legs, trunk and head and requires minimal effort and movement by patients. 

Methods & findings

31 female patients with active RA were included in this study to see if WBV therapy is effective for improving mobility.

One group of patients took part in two 15 minute WBV sessions per week for 12 weeks. Another group of patients carried out their normal activities for the 12 weeks (control group). All patients filled out a health questionnaire. BMD, physical activity and disease activity were also measured in both groups.

The WBV group of patients reported a significant increase in their ability to perform day to day tasks after the treatment. This improvement was still evident at a three month follow-up visit. No significant improvement was reported by the control group. BMD in the hip was decreased in the control group but the WBV group showed no decrease. Overall BMD was improved in the WBV group compared to the control group. The WBV group also reported an improvement in fatigue levels which was not seen in the control group. 

The bottom line

This study concluded that WBV therapy can improve functional ability and fatigue levels and can also help to preserve bone strength in the hip in females with RA. 

The fine print

This study was only carried out on female patients. Vitamin D, calcium intake and menopausal status were not taken into account but may have affected the results. 

What’s next?

Consult with your physician about effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.

Published By :

PLOS ONE

Date :

Apr 13, 2016

Original Title :

In Patients with Established RA, Positive Effects of a Randomised Three Month WBV Therapy Intervention on Functional Ability, Bone Mineral Density and Fatigue Are Sustained for up to Six Months.

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