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;2017:8480429. doi: 10.1155/2017/8480429. Epub 2017 Oct 18.


In order to evaluate the favorable effect of whole-body electromyostimulation (WB-EMS) on low back pain (LBP), an aspect which is frequently claimed by commercial providers, we performed a meta-analysis of individual patient data. The analysis is based on five of our recently conducted randomized controlled WB-EMS trials with adults 60 years+, all of which applied similar WB-EMS protocols (1.5 sessions/week, bipolar current, 16-25 min/session, 85 Hz, 350 μs, and 4-6 s impulse/4 s impulse-break) and used the same pain questionnaire. From these underlying trials, we included only subjects with frequent-chronic LBP in the present meta-analysis. Study endpoints were pain intensity and frequency at the lumbar spine. In summary, 23 participants of the underlying WB-EMS and 22 subjects of the control groups (CG) were pooled in a joint WB-EMS and CG. At baseline, no group differences with respect to LBP intensity and frequency were observed. Pain intensity improved significantly in the WB-EMS (p < .001) and was maintained (p = .997) in the CG. LBP frequency decreased significantly in the WB-EMS (p < .001) and improved nonsignificantly in the CG (p = .057). Group differences for both LBP parameters were significant (p ≤ .035). We concluded that WB-EMS appears to be an effective training tool for reducing LBP; however, RCTs should further address this issue with more specified study protocols.