Tai Chi good for Knee Arthritis

November 11, 2009
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Clearly this article was written by a guy – you can feel the lack of commitment straight away in the title – “Tai Chi may help reduce knee pain”. As we will see, the benefits are clear cut. The reason I’m posting this article is because it combines information from a few other posts, and I love it when we get various sources supporting each other.

Previously I’ve posted pieces on the benefits of exercise in the elderly, and on the correlation (or lack of) between thefindings of arthritis in medical imaging to pain and dysfunction. What that article said was that having osteoarthritis does not necessarily mean you get pain/poor function. What we think from that is that if you do happen to have pain and you do have a finding of arthritis, the pain is probably coming from things like the muscles tightening up around the joint (to try to stabilise it), the joint losing mobility and less fluid in the joint.

It would make sense then, that something like tai chi would help. The exercises increase your flexibility, your balance, and the stabilising muscles of your knee and ankle will be strengthened because of the slow, controlled nature of the movements.

And that’s exactly what they found. This study used 40 people (average age 65) and got them to do 60 minutes of tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks (the control group were given advice on managing arthritis, and some stretching).

Findings:

  • knee pain was significantly less in the Tai Chi group vs the control group
  • physical function significantly better in the Tai Chi group vs the control group
  • depression significantly better in the Tai Chi group vs the control group
  • health-related quality of life significantly better in the Tai Chi group vs the control group.
  • No severe adverse events were observed.

Source: Arthr Care Res. 2009;61:1545-1553.

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