Low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration accelerates fracture and wound healing and prevents disuse atrophy in musculoskeletal tissues.
To investigate the role of low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration as a treatment to accelerate healing of an acute ligament injury and to examine gene expression in the intact Achilles tendon of the injured limb after low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration.
Complete surgical transection of the medial collateral ligament (MCL) was performed in 32 Sprague-Dawley rats, divided into control and low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration groups. Low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration started on postoperative day 2, and rats received vibration for 30 minutes a day for 12 days. All rats were sacrificed 2 weeks after the operation, and their intact and injured MCLs were biomechanically tested or used for histological analysis. Intact Achilles tendons from the injured limb were evaluated for differences in gene expression.
Mechanical testing revealed no differences in the ultimate tensile load or the structural stiffness between the control and vibration groups for either the injured or intact MCL. Vibration exposure increased gene expression of collagen 1 alpha (3-fold), interleukin 6 (7-fold), cyclooxygenase 2 (5-fold), and bone morphogenetic protein 12 (4-fold) in the intact Achilles tendon when compared with control tendons ( P < .05).
While no differences were observed in the mechanical or histological properties of the fully transected MCL after low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration treatment, significant enhancements in gene expression were observed in the intact Achilles tendon. These included collagen, several inflammatory cytokines, and growth factors critical for tendons.
As low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration had no negative effects on ligament healing, vibration therapy may be a useful tool to accelerate healing of other tissues (bone) in multitrauma injuries without inhibiting ligament healing. Additionally, the enhanced gene expression in response to low-magnitude, high-frequency vibration in the intact Achilles tendon suggests the need to further study its potential to accelerate tendon healing in partial injury or repair models.