Experts POINT TO TAi Chi to ALLEVIATE knee osteoarthritis PAIN

OAFI Sport (Veterans)
  • Less pain and better quality of life after 5 weeks practicing the aquatic version of Tai chi
  • This is a pilot study carried out with only 25 patients but opens the door to further research

Researchers from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University have published a pilot study of 25 patients with osteoarthritis  of the knee showing that after five weeks of practicing Ai Chi (Tai Chi movements, but in the water), it improved knee OA pain and stiffness, as well as self-perceived functionality and quality of life of patients.

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 to relieve pain and relax the muscles. This led the researchers to test a new aquatic therapy: Ai Chi which 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 Ai 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 Ai 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 Ai Chi as a potential therapy for knee osteoarthritis symptoms, as it has been performed with a small number of patients and the results have not been compared with another control group, i.e. patients who, during the same time, do not receive the treatment.

Article reference

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

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