Want to improve that osteoarthritis in your knee? New research suggests that regular tai chi exercise can reduce pain and help your knee function better "Tai chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be a useful treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis," said Chenchen Wang, MD, coauthor of the study published in Arthritis Care & Research.


In the United States, an estimated 4.3 million adults over age 60 suffer from this form of arthritis, which causes wearing of joint cartilage. As many as half of American adults may develop symptoms by age 85, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently. Tai chi consists of slow, rhythmic movements that promote balance, strength and flexibility. The study participants performed Yang style tai chi, the most commonly practiced form, which uses slow, evenly paced, flowing movements.

The Study

Dr. Wang and colleagues from Tufts University School of Medicine recruited 40 patients, average age 65, who had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. Half of the group took part in tai chi sessions for an hour, twice weekly over a period of three months. The tai chi session consisted of 10 minutes of self-massage and review of tai chi principles, a half hour of tai chi movement, 10 minutes of breathing exercises and 10 minutes of relaxation. The other participants took two 60-minute classes per week for three months and learned about issues such as diet and nutrition, and treatments for osteoarthritis. They also stretched for 20 minutes.

Tai Chi Most Effective

Those who practiced tai chi had significantly less knee pain than the other group and also reported less depression, more physical function and better overall health.

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