Vibratory Therapy: A Manual Therapy Technique Used in Physical Therapy Treatment to Decrease Pain and Improve Function

by Dr. John R. Mishock, PT, DPT, DC

Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates uses a wide variety of manual therapy techniques (myofascial release, joint mobilization/manipulation, Active Release Technique, trigger point therapy, acupressure, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, cupping, Maitland, Mulligan, Cox Flexion Distraction, chiropractic, and others), to help relieve pain, enhance soft tissue healing and improve patient function. We use these techniques in combination with exercise (strength, endurance, power, motor control, balance, and flexibility training) and patient education on body mechanics and injury prevention to optimize each visit to expedite recovery and functional independence at work, home, recreation, and sports.

Mishock Physical Therapy & Associates recently added vibratory therapy to its extensive list of manual therapy techniques to enhance our patient’s musculoskeletal recovery. Vibratory therapy uses a small hand-held device that applies vibration directly over the muscle or tendon. Vibratory therapy creates a high frequency vibration that has a number of therapeutic benefits that enhance recovery. First of all, it has a neurophysiological affect on the superficial nerve endings (Pacini, Meissner, Ruffini, or Merkel’s nerve receptors) in the skin and soft tissues, as well as the nerve endings of the muscle and tendon (Golgi Tendon Organ and Muscle Spindle). The vibration stimulates these nerve endings sending a message to the spinal cord and brain causing a reflexive inhibition of the affected muscles, tendons, and fascia (covering of the muscle) which helps to inhibit or decrease pain. (Eur. Appl. Physiol. 2017). Studies also have shown that vibratory therapy can improve flexibility of tight or spastic muscles increasing range of motion of affected joints through this same neurological affect. (Journal of Jah Univ. of Med Sci., 2012)

Beyond a neurological affect, Vibratory therapy also causes local changes in circulation. Vibratory therapy increases circulation to the injured muscle or tendon which brings in new oxygenated blood with tissue healing elements (fibroblasts) that help to speed the recovery of the damaged tissue. (Journal of Strength and Conditioning, 2014)

Vibratory therapy can be used in acute injuries, overuse injury, post-surgical recovery, or chronic pain. Mishock Physical Therapy & Associate’s use of manual therapy techniques in combination with exercise and physical therapy modalities (iontophoresis, ultrasound, mechanical traction, electric stimulation and others…) have been shown through scientific research to enhance healing of damaged soft tissues, reduce pain, and expedite return to work, sports, or everyday life.
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Dr. Mishock is one of only a few clinicians with doctorate level degrees in both physical therapy and chiropractic in the state of Pennsylvania.