Music plus abdominal vibrations safe but ineffective against musculoskeletal pain in older adults

27 Nov 2021
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The combination of music and abdominally administered vibrations is safe and well-tolerated for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain in elderly adults but shows limited efficacy, a recent study has found.

Researchers conducted a multicentre randomized controlled pilot analysis of 45 older patients (age ≥65 years) who had had musculoskeletal pain ≥3 months, with a daily pain score of ≥4 out of 10. Participants were randomized to receive a music intervention combined with either low-frequency (n=23) or high-frequency (n=22) vibrations administered to the abdomen. Pain was quantified using the numeric pain rating scale (NRS).

Treatments were safe, and no serious adverse events (AE) potentially related to the intervention were detected. One episode of nonserious perceived lower back pain occurred while the treatment was being administered, which was likely due to bad posture.

Thirteen other nonserious AEs were detected that might be related to the study intervention, including dizziness/vertiginous, headaches, and tiredness.

Despite such safety, both interventions had limited efficacy in reducing pain. Average NRS scores per patient were significantly lower after vs before treatment in both the low-frequency (5.4±2.5 to 5.1±2.3) and high-frequency (5.4±2.3 to 4.0±2.7) groups. The same was true for the overall study cohort (5.4±2.4 to 4.5±2.5). However, such changes were deemed to be clinically insignificant.

Moreover, between-group differences failed to reach significance, suggesting that neither intervention was better than the other.

“A statistically significant but clinically insignificant immediate decrease in pain intensity was found for both treatments when comparing pretreatment and post-treatment scores,” the researchers said. “The treatment proved to be safe, but both the low-frequency and the high-frequency treatments did not decrease chronic musculoskeletal pain in [older patients] over time.”

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