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A Centuries Old Secret to Alleviate Knee Pain

A study published online in July 2008 in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders found that Tai Chi can help alleviate knee pain for people with knee osteoarthritis. The results were presented at last month's American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting in San Francisco.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese form of mind-body therapy. In modern western culture the exercise therapy can be described as a combination of meditation and yoga. Tai Chi combines deep, relaxed breathing with various postures aimed to improve balance, strength and flexibility.

This particular study included 40 participants with a mean age of 65. All of the participants reported knee pain while walking, going up or down stairs, standing upright, or while in bed. All of the participants were also overweight and had suffered from knee osteoarthritis for at least ten years.

The researchers randomly assigned the study participants to one of two groups. The first group underwent one hour of tai chi twice a week for twelve weeks. The other group spent the same amount of time doing stretching exercises and receiving wellness education regarding knee osteoarthritis.

After the twelve week intervention, researchers measured changes in pain, physical function, health-related quality of life, and general mood. The researchers measured these changes using a scale called the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) pain subscale.

Using this scale, researchers determined that the tai chi group improved more than the stretching/wellness group for levels of pain, physical function, quality of life, and mood.

The researchers also conducted follow up assessments 24 and 48 weeks after the beginning of the study and found that the participants that continued with the tai chi had less pain and longer-lasting knee function.
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