First Randomized Trial Suggests Tai Chi Efficacy Comparable to Existing Treatment Modalities

Results of a recently conducted randomized controlled trial suggest that Tai Chi may be as effective as neck exercises in the management of chronic neck pain. According to the authors, this is the first such study of the benefits of Tai Chi as therapy for neck pain. The practice of Tai Chi involves a combination of musculoskeletal breathing exercises and meditation training. With origins in China, it has been applied to a variety of therapeutic purposes, including relief of back pain, treatment of rheumatologic diseases, and various psychological disorders. The findings were published last week in Journal of Pain.

The study enrolled 114 subjects aged 18 or older who reported chronic nonspecific neck pain lasting for 3 consecutive months. Participants were randomized to receive group Tai Chi, group neck exercises, or no treatment. After 12 weeks, the groups receiving either Tai Chi or neck exercises reported improved scores in pain levels, disability, quality of life, and postural control, as compared to the no-treatment control group. The authors emphasized the preliminary nature of their work, and called for additional studies to confirm their findings of Tai Chi efficacy. Additionally, future research might investigate the potential of Tai Chi training to prevent the development of neck pain. They conclude, “If future studies confirm that Tai Chi is effective and safe, it could be recommended to subjects with a specific preference toward complementary medicine exercise techniques, or to subjects who want to participate in a practice that has a larger focus on body awareness and spirituality.”

Read more about the research findings here.

The journal article may be read here.

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