28 Jul Experts propose TAi Chi to relieve the pain of knee osteoarthritis
- Less pain and better quality of life after 5 weeks practicing the aquatic version of Tai chi
- This is a pilot study with only 25 patients but opens the door to new research
Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong have published a pilot study of 25 knee osteoarthritis patients demonstrating that after five weeks of practicing Tai Chi (Tai Chi movements, but in the water), improved knee OA pain and stiffness, as well as proprioception and quality of life.
The results of the study have been published in The Journal of Physical Therapy Science.
Aquatic exercise for osteoarthritis
Several studies show that aquatic therapy improves the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis due to water buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure and heat that help relieve pain and relax muscles. This led researchers to test a new aquatic therapy: the Tai chi that combines the concepts of Tai chi with conventional aquatic therapy techniques. It involves a total of 19 standardized movement patterns emphasizing the coordination of body movements with breathing patterns.
This study was designed to investigate the effect of Tai Chi on pain, stiffness, knee proprioception and physical functioning in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee and also on their quality of life.
10 sessions in 5 weeks
After 5 weeks of practicing Tai chi twice a week in 60-minute sessions, pain and stiffness were significantly reduced and an increase in patients perception of their physical function and quality of life was detected.
The same researchers warn in the article that this study is only a first approximation to include Tai Chi as a potential therapy for knee osteoarthritis symptoms, because it has been performed with a small number of patients and the results have not been compared to another control group, i.e. patients who during the same time do not receive the treatment.
So BCL, Kong ISY, Lee RKL, Man RWF, Tse WHK, Fong AKW, Tsang WWN. The effect of Ai Chi aquatic therapy on individuals with knee osteoarthritis: a pilot study. J Phys Ther Sci. 2017 May;29(5):884-890. doi: 10.1589/jpts.29.884