Sunday, November 8, 2009

Try Tai Chi for Knee Arthritis

Tai chi may help to reduce pain and improve physical function in people with knee arthritis, according to the results of a study published in the November 2009 issue of Arthritis Care and Research. Tai chi is a form of Chinese martial arts that uses slow rhythmic movements to encourage mental relaxation and improve balance. Now it seems that this traditional discipline is a reasonable treatment for older adults with arthritis of the knee.

Researchers from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass. conducted a trial of 40 older adults with an average age of 65 years who had symptomatic arthritis of the knee. Study participants were randomly assigned to either 60 minutes of tai chi or twice-weekly sessions of attention control focused on wellness education and stretching for a period of 12 weeks. The knee arthritis patients who were assigned to the tai chi group reported significantly greater improvement in their arthritis pain. They also reported significantly greater improvements in physical function, depression, and health-related quality of life.

Tai chi is a mind-body approach which seems to be effective in treating arthritis-related knee pain in older adults who are otherwise healthy. The study authors point out that tai chi meets all of the current exercise recommendations for arthritis of the knee, including range-of-motion and flexibility exercises, muscle conditioning, and aerobic training. It may even be that the mental discipline of tai chi can help to minimize the negative effects of chronic arthritis by improving psychological sense of well-being.

Article by June Chen, MD in HealthandAge.com

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