The objective of this study is to provide evidence of the effect of WB-EMS on chronic and nonspecific low back pain in older people. For this project, we performed a meta-analysis of the data of individual patients from five of our recent studies of WB-EMS [10, 11, 13–15] with older people, with special attention to participants with frequent and nonspecific chronic pain in the lumbar spine.
45 study participants (WB-EMS: n = 23; control: n = 22) who fully met the eligibility criteria were identified and included in the analysis (Table 1).
We apply bipolar electric current, select a pulse frequency of 85 Hz, a pulse width of 350 μs and use a duty cycle of 6 seconds of stimulation and 4 seconds of rest. However, in two studies, we prescribed an additional WB-EMS application with 7 Hz for 10 min or 15 min. In addition, consistently, light, low intensity and low amplitude dynamic exercises were performed during the stimulation phase of 4 to 6 s of the studies.
The training frequency varied between 1 and 1.5 sessions per week and the duration of the sessions also varied from 16 to 25 min. The intensity of the stimulation was consistently regulated using the “perceived exertion rate” (RPE) scale of Borg CR 10.
The control group without training was asked to strictly maintain their usual lifestyle during the study period. The “active” control group applied a program of movements / light exercises on vibrating platforms of whole body (WBV, 30 Hz) of 18 min / week, with special attention to flexibility.
Lumbar pain intensity decreased significantly in the WB-EMS group and remained unchanged in the control group. The differences between the groups were significant. The size of the effects can be considered high. Therefore, we confirm our main hypothesis that WB-EMS significantly decreases the intensity of low back pain in older people with frequent nonspecific and chronic low back pain.
WB-EMS has a favorable effect in the treatment of chronic and nonspecific LBP and should be considered as a promising therapy but not yet properly verified to treat chronic non-specific low back pain in the elderly.
Kemmler W., Weissenfels A., Bebenek M., Fröhlich M., Kleinöder H., Kohl M., y Von Stengel. (2017) Effects of Whole-Body Electromyostimulation on Low Back Pain in People with Chronic Unspecific Dorsal Pain: A Meta-Analysis of Individual Patient Data from Randomized Controlled WB-EMS Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2017:8480429.