Tai Chi Has Been Found To Be Just As Effective As Physical Therapy

young beautiful girl doing some exercises in the meadow

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Written by: Justin Cowart

Both physical therapy and Tai Chi can positively impact your levels of pain, symptoms of knee osteoarthritis and other ailing functions, which makes Tai Chi a great viable alternative for people who are suffering with degenerative diseases, according to research that was presented this past week at the American College of Rheumatology’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Degenerative joint disease, also called osteoarthritis, is a slowly progressive disease that causes your joint cartilage to break down. Normally, your cartilage at the ends of your bones allows for pain-free and smooth joint movements.

In osteoarthritis, however, your cartilage becomes irregular and thin, which results in multiple symptoms of stiffness and joint pain. With this type of disease, different cracking and grinding sensations may occur.

Joints that tend to be under higher stress due to activities or weight-bearing are most susceptible to osteoarthritis, which becomes more and more common with aging.

Knee osteoarthritis, which can cause excruciating, long-term pain, has common treatments that can be quite challenging. There have been studies done recently that have already been able to show that Tai Chi is highly effective in helping the mental and physical symptoms that are associated with the disease – without any major side complications.

The researchers were able to take a step to further determine if Tai Chi would be able to hold up against physical therapy.

Professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, MD, MCs. Chenchen Wang, said that “based on our previous investigation, we directly compared the effectiveness of two therapies each known to have health benefits for knee OA.”

Dr. Wang’s research team had selected 204 different participants that already had radiographic and symptomatic knee OA for their study and then randomly placed the participants into two groups.

The first group – which consisted of 106 participants – completed 12 weeks of classical Yang style Tai Chi twice a week, while the second group of 98 went through and completed physical therapy twice a week for a 6 week period and then were further monitored as they completed six weeks of at-home physical therapy exercises.

To help round out the study, Dr. Wang’s team made sure to take note that there were no differences in the Tai Chi group based on the four different instructors, which showed great consistency in the treatment. On the other hand, there were differences in the physical therapy group that were based on the therapist used.

Based on the findings by Dr. Wang and his team, they strongly believe that Tai Chi should actually be considered a beneficial therapeutic option to help with knee OA.  Dr. Wang goes on to say that,

“Patients and their physicians should discuss Tai Chi as a therapy option, but it is important that patients work with a seasoned instructor with five to 10 years of experience working with people who have OA to ensure they are receiving proper instruction.”

Wow, to think that something as simple as Tai Chi can be just as beneficial or work just as well as physical therapy! What do you think about the research done by Dr. Wang?  We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.



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Justin Cowart

Justin Cowart

Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
Justin Cowart


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