The results of a new analysis offer evidence to suggest that tai chi is beneficial for arthritis. Specifically, it was shown to decrease pain with trends toward improving overall physical health, level of tension, and satisfaction with health status, says the study, published in the June issue of Arthritis Care & Research.
Tai chi, a form of exercise that is regularly practiced in China to improve overall health and well-being, is usually preformed in a group but is also practiced individually at one’s leisure.
The study examined the effectiveness of tai chi in decreasing pain and disability and improving physical function and quality of life in people with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Led by Amanda Hall of the George Institute, Sydney, Australia, researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis, analyzing seven eligible randomized controlled trials that used tai chi as the main intervention for patients with musculoskeletal pain.
The results show that tai chi improves pain and disability in patients suffering arthritis, according to the researchers. The authors state, "The fact that tai chi is inexpensive, convenient, and enjoyable and conveys other psychological and social benefits supports the use this type of intervention for pain conditions such as arthritis. It is of importance to note that the results reported in this systematic review are indicative of the effect of tai chi versus minimal intervention (usual health care or health education) or wait list control," the authors note.
Establishing the specific effects of tai chi would require a placebo-controlled trial, which has not yet been undertaken, they note.