Tai Chi May Help Relieve Chronic Pain

Tai Chi MinnesotaResearch published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that people who suffer from chronic pain may find relief by practicing Tai Chi.

Medical researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 34 studies involving nearly 1,600 patients to better understand Tai Chi’s effectiveness in treating chronic health conditions, like pain, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoarthritis and some cancers. Participants ranged in age from their mid-50s to early 70s, and they took part in 2-3 Tai Chi sessions each week over the course of 12 weeks.

After looking at the results, researchers concluded:

  • Participants in the Tai Chi group exhibited improved physical capacity, muscle strength, walking ability, bending and flexing range and ability to go from a seated to a standing position.
  • In patients with COPD, breathlessness was reduced for those in the Tai Chi group.
  • Patients with osteoarthritis who took part in Tai Chi saw improvements in pain and stiffness.

“The results demonstrated a favorable effect or tendency of Tai Chi to improve physical performance and showed that this type of exercise could be performed by individuals with different chronic conditions,” researchers said.

 Tai Chi and Pain

Tai Chi helps relieve pain and stress through choreographed movements that build muscle and improve balance and posture. The exercise technique also works to relax the individual through patterned breathing techniques.

The results of the study fall in line with previous research on the benefits of Tai Chi. The earlier study suggested preforming Tai Chi over the course of just 8 weeks can reduce fibromyalgia symptoms. Researchers also concluded that it can improve sleep quality and physical function while reducing anxiety and fatigue.

So if you’re suffering from chronic pain, back soreness or just seem overly anxious, give Tai Chi a try. We’ve already discussed the benefits of exercise at great lengths on the blog, but relaxed, coordinated movements can produce similar results. For more information about Tai Chi, or to check out some exercises for beginners, click here.

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).