Vibrating Belt Gets FDA ‘Breakthrough Device’ Designation for Osteoporosis

Vibrating Belt Gets FDA ‘Breakthrough Device’ Designation for Osteoporosis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given “Breakthrough Device” designation to a vibrating belt that lowers the risk of bone fractures caused by osteoporosis. When worn around the waist, the OsteoBoost Vibration Belt delivers gentle stimulation to the hips and spine, simulating the effects of exercise and strengthening bones.

Osteoporosis is caused by the loss of bone mineral density (BMD) and is one of the most common health conditions associated with old age. More than 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and 43 million have its precursor, osteopenia.

About 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture, usually in their hip or spine. Breaking a bone is especially traumatic for the elderly and can lead to a cascade of health problems, including chronic pain, disability and early death.

Osteoporosis is currently treated with changes in diet, exercise and bisphosphonate drugs such as Fosamax, which slow the loss of BMD. However, long term use of bisphosphonates can lead to side effects such as bone, muscle or joint pain, as well as nausea and heartburn.

“For years, I have wanted a better option for my patients with low bone density that doesn’t have the potential side effects and the inconvenience of current drug treatments. With OsteoBoost we’ve created a safe, drug-free alternative that is easy and convenient. Now my patients with osteopenia have a new way to improve their bone health and reduce their risk of fracture,” says Dr. Shane Mangrum, co-founder of San Francisco-based Bone Health Technologies, which makes the OsteoBoost belt.

OsteoBoost uses whole body vibration (WBV) technology originally developed for NASA to improve the bone health of astronauts in a weightless environment. Here on earth, WBV has been found to improve bone mineral density, but it requires users to stand on a stationary vibrating platform, which isn’t always practical.

Because OsteoBoost is wearable, users can go for a walk or perform simple household chores while getting treatment. It’s recommended the device be used in 30-minute sessions, 3 to 5 times a week.

In a small clinical trial, OsteoBoost reduced bone loss in postmenopausal women by an average of 14%, a reduction similar to bisphosphonates. The National Institutes of Health is funding a larger, $2 million study of OsteoBoost that is currently enrolling postmenopausal patients. It is scheduled to be completed in early 2022.

If that study is successful, the FDA’s Breakthrough Device designation will speed up the agency’s review of OsteoBoost and help bring it to market sooner. The belt is not currently available for purchase and will require a a prescription when it is.

A 2011 Canadian study found that WBV did not improve bone mineral density in postmenopausal women who used a vibrating platform daily for a year while also taking vitamin D and calcium supplements.

“Although commercially available WBV devices are marketed to and used by patients, the beneficial effects of WBV on fracture risk and BMD have not been established, and recent randomized, controlled trials in postmenopausal women have shown conflicting results,” said lead researcher Angela Cheung, MD, at University Health Network in Toronto. “Women would be farther ahead in making sure that they are exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods.”

– Pat Anson, Pain News Network Editor