Whole-body vibration and the risk of low back pain and sciatica: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Lage BurströmEmail author
  • Tohr Nilsson
  • Jens Wahlström
Review Article



The aim of this systematic literature review was to evaluate the association between whole-body vibration (WBV) and low back pain (LBP) and sciatica with special attention given to exposure estimates. Moreover, the aim was to estimate the magnitude of such an association using meta-analysis and to compare our findings with previous reviews.


The authors systematically searched the PubMed (National Library of Medicine, Bethesda), Nioshtic2 (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, Morgantown), and ScienceDirect (Elsevier, Amsterdam) databases for records up to December 31, 2013. Two of the authors independently assessed studies to determine their eligibility, validity, and possible risk of bias.


The literature search gave a total of 306 references out of which 28 studies were reviewed and 20 were included in the meta-analysis. Exposure to WBV was associated with increased prevalence of LBP and sciatica [pooled odds ratio (OR) = 2.17, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.61–2.91 and OR 1.92, 95 % CI 1.38–2.67, respectively]. Workers exposed to high vibration levels had a pooled risk estimate of 1.5 for both outcomes when compared with workers exposed to low levels of vibration. The results also indicate that some publication bias could have occurred especially for sciatica.


This review shows that there is scientific evidence that exposure to WBV increases the risk of LBP and sciatica.


Vibration Low back pain Sciatica Meta-analysis Exposure Publication bias 



The financial support of the Swedish AFA Insurance is gratefully acknowledged. We also acknowledge comments on the original manuscript in Swedish (Burström et al. 2012).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Occupational and Environmental MedicineUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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