Tai Chi has been hailed as a viable alternative treatment for people suffering with knee osteoarthritis.
The American College of Rheumatology annual meeting in San Francisco shows that Tai chi can have physical benefits.
As part of a study a group of 106 people with the knee problem completed 12 weeks of classical Yang style Tai Chi twice a week.
The participants were an average of 60 years of age and had suffered from osteoarthritis of the knee for eight years.
Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease, is a slowly progressive disease in which joint cartilage breaks down. Normally, cartilage on the ends of bones allows smooth, pain-free joint movements. In OA, cartilage becomes thin and irregular, resulting in symptoms of joint pain and stiffness. Grinding or cracking sensations may occur. Joints that are under high stress due to repeated activity or weight bearing are most susceptible to OA. The hips, knees, hands and spine are commonly affected. OA Knee OA causes long-term pain, and treatment can be challenging. becomes more common with aging.
The Tai Chi group were compared with a group being treated with physical therapy, an accepted treatment for the knee condition.
By week 12 the Tai Chi group had higher scores on an Arthritis index 167 points compared to 143 for the physical therapy group.
They also had signifgicant improvements in their pain levels.
The researchers concluded that Tai Chi should be considered a beneficial therapeutic option to treat knee osteoarthritis stressing it was important that patients work with a seasoned instruction to ensure they received proper tuition.
The research was carried out at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Center For Complementary And Integrative Medicine Division of Rheumatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Mass.