Research Findings about Tai Chi and Arthritis

Tai chi appears to be safe and may be beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Twenty patients with RA were randomly assigned to tai chi or attention control in twice-weekly sessions for 12 weeks. At 12 weeks, 50% of patients randomized to tai chi achieved a 20% response measured on the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 20 response criterion, compared with 0% in the control. Those practicing tai chi also showed greater improvement in disability index, vitality and depression index. Similar trends in improvement were also observed for disease activity, functional capacity and health-related quality of life. (Tai Chi improves pain and functional status in adults with rheumatoid arthritis: results of a pilot single-blinded randomized controlled trial. Med Sport Sci. 2008;52:218-29).

South Korean research has shown that (Sun-style) tai chi is effective in alleviating several symptoms of osteoarthritis. 43 middle-aged women who had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis were randomised to participate in 20-minute tai chi sessions at least 3 times a week for a 12-week period, or to serve as controls. At the end of the study, the women in the tai chi group reported significantly less pain and stiffness in their joints and improved overall physical functioning. No changes were observed in the control group. Women in the tai chi group also showed significant improvement in balance and abdominal muscle strength. (J Rheumatol 2003;30:2039-44).

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