Evaluation of the Efficacy of Musical Vibroacupuncture in Pain Relief: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study

Augusto Weber, Simon Busbridge, Ricardo Governo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To investigate if skin vibration employing consonant frequencies emitted by skin transducers attached to a combination of acupuncture points and according to musical harmony (musical chord) produces more significant pain relief compared to just a single frequency.

Materials and methods: Skin vibrostimulation produced by five electromagnet transducers was applied at five acupoints traditionally used to pain relief and anxiety in 13 pain-free healthy volunteers using the cold pressor test (CPT). The study consisted of three randomized sessions conducted on alternate days, with participants receiving either simultaneous frequencies of 32, 48, and 64 Hz that equate those used in a musical chord, hereby defined as musical vibroacupuncture (MVA), a single frequency of 32 Hz, set as vibroacupuncture (VA) and sham procedure (SP). CPT scores for pain thresholds and pain tolerance were assessed using repeated-measures ANOVAs. Pain intensity was evaluated using a numerical rating scale (NRS), while sensory and affective aspects of pain were rated using the short-form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) Y-Form.

Results: Pain thresholds did not vary significantly between trials. Pain tolerance scores were markedly higher in MVA compared to baseline (p = 0.0043) or SP (p = 0.006) but not for VA. Pain intensity for MVA also differed significantly from the baseline (p = 0.007) or SP (p = 0.027), but not for VA. No significant differences were found in SF-MPQ and STAI questionnaires.

Conclusions: These results suggest that MVA effectively increased pain tolerance and reduced pain intensity when compared with all groups, although not significant to the VA group.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Pages (from-to)1475-1482
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2020


  • Acupuncture
  • music
  • musical vibroacupuncture
  • pain
  • vibration


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