Easing Fibromyalgia with Tai Chi

Jenny Decker RN's picture
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A new study, released in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that Tai Chi may be a form of treatment for patients with fibromyalgia. The study was small, including 66 people divided into two groups. One group received education and did stretching exercises. The other group did Tai Chi twice a week under the direction of a Tai Chi master and also were encouraged to do 20 minutes at home each day.

The study was done at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. Benefits from the tai chi include decreased pain, lessened depression, and sleep improvement. In an environment where some physicians are reluctant to even acknowledge that fibromyalgia exists, this research provides a positive direction for patients and physicians alike.

How Tai Chi helps fibromyalgia

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Many people with fibromyalgia often turn towards alternative therapies for relief from the pain, stiffness, depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. This is in part due to some health care professionals not acknowledging that the condition actually exists. Another reason may be that treatments with pain meds and antidepressants just are not as effective. Research on tai chi shows how it may help fibromyalgia.

The study included the Yang style of tai chi that is especially soft and gentle. With evidence that fibromyalgia may in fact be caused by a heightened sensitivity to pain, the Yang style is particularly effective. The exercises are also slow and include breathing and meditation. Researchers suggest the results should be examined in larger groups with other factors, such as different masters and approaches to tai chi.

Study participants found that they had improvement in pain and depression, as well as an increase of quality of life, more mobility, and even using less medication. Experts state that waiting to see more results is not necessary for people with the condition to begin the method. It is safe and effective and certainly can’t hurt to try.

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