Tai Chi Benefits Comparable to Physical Therapy in Knee Osteoarthritis

HealthDay News — For knee osteoarthritis, similar benefits are seen for Tai Chi and standard physical therapy, according to a study published online May 17 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Chenchen Wang, MD, from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, and colleagues compared Tai Chi with standard physical therapy for 204 patients with knee osteoarthritis in a 52-week trial. Participants were randomized to Tai Chi (twice per week for 12 weeks) or standard physical therapy (twice per week for 6 weeks, followed by 6 weeks of home exercise).

The researchers found that the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index score was considerably reduced in both groups at 12 weeks (Tai Chi, 167 points; physical therapy, 143 points); the difference between the groups was not significant. Similar clinically significant improvements were seen in most secondary outcomes for both groups, and the benefits persisted to 52 weeks. Significantly greater improvements were seen in depression and the physical component of quality of life in the Tai Chi group. Across instructors, the benefits of Tai Chi were consistent. There were no serious adverse events.

“Tai Chi produced beneficial effects similar to those of a standard course of physical therapy in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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