Study Shows Tai Chi as Effective as Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis



Knee osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis of the knee. Arthritis is a chronic inflammation causing pain, swelling and stiffness as primary symptoms. It can make difficult many daily activities as walking or climbing steps, reduce significantly person’s quality of life.

Now, new researching shows that taichi could be helpful for patients with painful knee osteoarthritis, reducing pain and improving physical functioning. The results of this study,  conducted at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and recently publish in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that this practice can complement or substitute conventional physical therapy.

In this study, 204 patients age 40 or older with knee osteoarthristis were randomly assigned to standardized group tai chi training (two 1-hour sessions each week for 12 weeks) or standard one-on-one physical therapy (two 30-minute sessions per week for 6 weeks followed by 6 additional weeks of home-based exercises monitored by the research staff). Both groups were then encouraged to continue their tai chi practice or home exercises for a total of 52 weeks.

Results show that both groups had similar decreases in pain and improvement in physical functioning after 12 weeks. Both groups also maintained the benefits of treatment for the full 52 week. Patients in the tai chi group also show more improvement in depression symptoms and quality of life than those in the physical therapy group.

The researchers concluded that tai chi protocolo should be considered as an effective therapeutic option for knee osteoarthritis.

Previous research shown that Taichi – An acient Chinese mind and body practice that combine movement with deep breathing and meditation – can reduce pain and improve physical functioning, but this is the first study in wich tai chi was compared with a standard treatment. An important strength of the study was that the participants were typical of people with knee osteoarthritis; many were obese, and many were older. Nevertheless, they were able to participate in and benefit from both of the treatments that were evaluated.


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