In The News: November 2011

Tai chi-an alternative therapy whose effectiveness in relieving pain has often been questioned-may be a useful treatment for the treatment of fibromyalgia. In a study conducted by Tufts Medical Center in Boston and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 66 patients with the disease did significantly better in measurements of pain, fatigue, physical functioning, sleeplessness, and depression than a comparable group given stretching exercises. Fibromyalgia is a complex condition, affecting nearly five million Americans, and its cause and treatment have long been debated. Although recent studies have suggested that tai chi, with its slow exercises, breathing, and meditation, could benefit patients with other chronic conditions, including arthritis, not all reports have been conclusive. In this study, patients received twice-weekly tai chi classes and a DVD to practice with 20 minutes daily. After 12 weeks, they not only showed marked improvement, but one-third stopped taking pain medication. The studys authors concluded that given the complexity of fibromyalgia, tai chi has multiple components-physical, psychological, social, and spiritual-that can be brought to bear in treating the disease.
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