You are here

Good Vibrations: Bone Health

By Karen L. Kier
Pharmacist on behalf of the ONU Healthwise Team 

The Beach Boys released their hit Good Vibrations on October 10, 1966. The lyrics were written by Mike Love and the music was composed by Brian Wilson. The development of this song was groundbreaking. Segments of the song were recorded over 9 months in 4 different studios. The term pocket symphony was given to this style of recording. 

How would good vibrations improve one’s health?

In January 2024, the FDA cleared a new vibration belt for women who have lost some of their bone density. The belt is strategically placed on the hips and spine and provides a mechanical stimulation to the bones. 

Bone mineral density (BMD) is a measure of minerals in our bones and gives an indication of bone thickness or density. The measurement is evaluating mineral composition of the bone, but calcium and phosphorus are the 2 common minerals found in the bone.

As we age, we lose bone and BMD decreases. Women after menopause have a significant risk of bone loss compared to men of the same age. Besides gender and age, other risk factors include a family history of osteoporosis, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol intake, diets low in calcium and vitamin D, and non-Hispanic white women and Asian women. 

Bone loss is a gradual and silent condition until the loss is severe enough to see broken bones or fractures. Sometimes minor falls or even coughing can be enough to break a bone. The loss of bone in the spine can result in significant back pain and becoming shorter.

The best way to know if you have bone loss is to be screened. This can be done with a small machine using ultrasound to estimate bone density in areas like the heel and forearm. These tools are helpful for screening who may need more diagnostic evaluations. Further workups would include a DEXA (dual x-ray absorptiometry) scan of the hips and spine to measure thickness and strength of the bone. 

The DEXA scan provides information for 3 levels of bone health. A normal scan based on gender and age means little to no bone loss. The presence of significant bone loss is called osteoporosis and this increases the risk of bone fractures. Osteopenia is the term used to describe bone loss that has not progressed to the severity of osteoporosis. 

The earlier we catch bone loss, the sooner we can provide intervention strategies such as this vibration belt. 

The device is the OsteoboostTM vibration belt by Bone Health Technologies. The belt requires a prescription from a healthcare provider. It is approved for postmenopausal women with osteopenia and not osteoporosis. Scans would be essential to catch bone loss early. 

Besides calcium and vitamin D supplementation, there are no FDA-approved indications for drugs to treat osteopenia. Several medications are available to manage individuals with osteoporosis. 

The belt was cleared based on a study in the Journal of the Endocrine Society. The purpose of the belt is not to build bone, but rather to stop the loss of more bone. This is to preserve the bone before it progresses to a more severe form.

The clinical studies for the belt were done at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The study involved postmenopausal women with evidence of bone loss. The women were asked to wear the device for 30 minutes a day for at least 5 days per week. Once the belt is turned on, the women could walk or stand, but not sit. 

The study compared bone loss in women before and after the belt. The vibration belt preserved BMD. The preservation of bone by the vibrating belt was similar to other studies when women did routine resistance exercises.   

Weight-bearing and resistance exercises are a key for bone health. Maintaining an active lifestyle is important. Many of the women who wore the vibrating belt would walk for those 30 minutes to exercise or walk their pets. The large majority of the women in the study felt the belt was easy to use and did not interfere with their daily routines. 

Calcium and vitamin D are good supplements to consider for managing bone health. Eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D and consider supplements as well for your bones. Consult with your pharmacist or healthcare provider for recommendations. 

Some good vibrations could be good for your bones!

ONU Healthwise is offering the flu, RSV, and COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine clinics occur Monday through Friday from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Please call for more information.

ONU Healthwise Pharmacy