Tai chi improves well-being and pain relief in knee osteoarthritis

Tai chi was found to improve well-being and relieve pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to research published in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Master Geng Zhang Cai is the Canadian national Wushu team coach, official Wushu judge certified by IWUF. Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre

by Chelsea Frajerman Pardes, Healio May 25, 2016

The mind-body practice demonstrated efficacy similar to physical therapy, Chenchen Wang MD MSc, director and associate professor at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Tufts Medical Center, and colleagues found.

“Knee osteoarthritis is a major age-related public health problem and a leading cause of long-term pain and disability,” Wang and colleagues wrote. “No effective medical treatments for the disease currently exist. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis, but often fail to relieve symptoms and may cause serious adverse effects.

Physical therapy, a globally recommended element of the standard care regimen for knee osteoarthritis, produces moderate benefits for pain and physical functioning, but data on psychological well-being and durability effects are limited. Identifying new and effective treatments for patients with knee osteoarthritis is an urgent clinical and public health priority.”

During a period of 52 weeks, researchers conducted a single-blind, comparative effectiveness trial of 204 participants with symptomatic and radiographic knee osteoarthritis. Patients were randomly assigned to either a standardized tai chi regimen of twice per week for 12 weeks or a standard physical therapy twice per week for 6 weeks and then 6 weeks of home monitored exercise. The investigators measured WOMAC scores at 12 weeks, as well as depression, physical function, quality of life and medication use.

Results showed both groups demonstrated improved WOMAC pain scores after 12 weeks. Scores in the tai chi group dropped by 167 points (95% CI, 145-190) and scores in the physical therapy group dropped by 143 points (95% CI, 119-167). In addition, both groups experienced similar improvements in all secondary outcomes at 24 weeks and 52 weeks.

Researchers reported that participants in the tai chi group showed greater improvements in physical aspects of quality of life and depression. Furthermore, the benefits of tai chi were consistent among instructors and no serious adverse events were reported.

“[The] results of this comparative effectiveness trial support the supposition that tai chi, a multicomponent mind-body exercise, improves pain and well-being in patients with knee osteoarthritis,” Wang and colleagues concluded. “Despite the substantial differences in delivering a mind-body intervention to a group and physical therapy to individual persons, both interventions produced similar effects in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. Therefore, standardized tai chi should be considered as an effective therapeutic option for knee osteoarthritis. Further examination of the disease-modifying mechanisms of successful mind-body medicine will better inform clinical decision-making for patients with this therapeutically challenging disorder.”

Source Healio

Comparative Effectiveness of Tai Chi Versus Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Trial, Wang C, Schmid CH, Iversen MD, Harvey WF, Fielding RA, Driban JB, Price LL, Wong JB, Reid KF, Rones R, McAlindon T. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Jul 19;165(2):77-86. doi: 10.7326/M15-2143. Epub 2016 May 17.

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