Tai Chi beats stretching in Fibromyalgia study

Stretching for tai chi cartoon

A study involving 33 volunteers has shown how Tai Chi can help to improve both pain and depression in Fibromyalgia sufferers. Volunteers took 60 minute classes twice a week from a Tai Chi master and were encouraged to practice at least 20 minutes a day. Another group were given stretching classes similar to what one might do on waking in the morning. To assess the effectiveness of each treatment, the team, led by Dr. Chenchen Wang of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, USA, several assessment tools were used, including a system that measured Fibromyalgia symptoms on a 100 point scale. The scores of the Tai Chi team improved by an average of 28 point, whereas the stretching team saw improvement of an average of nine points.

Dr Gloria Yeh and her colleagues at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston recommend more studies with larger groups to eliminate such factors as group leader enthusiasm, but suggest that it might be time to give Tai Chi a chance. Aside from pain relief, the Tai Chi volunteers reported improvements in mood, quality of life, sleep, self-efficacy and exercise capacity. Fibromyalgia affects as many as 200 million people worldwide, but is difficult to diagnose, with no clear guidelines for symptoms which include pain, fatigue, stiffness and sleep difficulties.

Source: New England Journal of Medicine

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First Published in Auust 2010

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