New study revealed last week at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, preliminary results that Tai Chi practice reduces pain in osteoarthritis patients. More research is needed, but this is an optomistic start to understanding some of the positive benefits of Tai Chi.
"Dr. Wang's group studied 40 patients who met ACR criteria for knee osteoarthritis and had a body mass index of at least 40 kg/m2.
They were randomized to a 12-week intervention of one hour twice a week with either group Tai Chi sessions or stretching exercises plus education on osteoarthritis, diet and nutrition, and physical and mental health.
The groups were statistically similar at baseline, although the control group tended to have worse osteoarthritis and health status.
By the end of the exercise intervention, the stretching group remained fairly similar to baseline with a decrease of just 38.5 points on the 500-point WOMAC pain scale (95% confidence interval -87.2 to 10.3) whereas the Tai Chi group had a 157.3-point drop in pain (95% CI -198.5 to -116.0).
Among the secondary outcomes, the findings for Tai Chi compared with the stretching control group at 12 weeks included:
Improved physical function scores (change -506.8 versus 182.2 on a 1,700-point scale, P=0.001)
Better self-reported global functioning (change -3.0 versus -0.8 on a 10-point scale, P=0.003)
Better physician-reported global functioning (change -3.2 versus -1.4 on a 10-point scale, P=0.0009)
Improved chair stand test time (-12.0 versus -0.9 sec, P=0.0005)
Increase self-efficacy (0.6 versus -0.1 on a scale of one to five, P=0.04)
Greater reduction in depressive symptoms (-7.4 versus -0.7, P=0.009)"
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