Tai Chi Might Be as Effective as Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis

Summary and Comment |
June 16, 2016

Tai Chi Might Be as Effective as Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis

  1. Jonathan S. Coblyn, MD

Pain scores between groups were similar at 12 weeks and 1 year.

  1. Jonathan S. Coblyn, MD

Researchers from Tufts have reported that tai chi is more effective than no treatment among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, or knee osteoarthritis (OA; Arthritis Rheum 2009; 61:1545). Now, this research group has conducted a randomized trial to compare standard physical therapy and tai chi in 204 patients with knee OA. Tai chi sessions were 60 minutes twice weekly for 12 weeks; physical therapy sessions were 30 minutes twice weekly for 6 weeks, with close phone monitoring for another 6 weeks. Assessors were blinded to treatment assignments.

At 12, 24, and 52 weeks, mean pain scores (as measured on the WOMAC scale) had improved similarly in both groups, and outcomes in the two groups were similar for most secondary measures (i.e., physical function, medication use, and overall quality of life). However, the tai chi group showed statistically superior improvement in the secondary measures of depression and the physical component of a quality-of-life measure at 12 weeks.

Comment

This paper adds to the growing literature that supports noninvasive therapies for patients with knee OA. Tai chi was as effective as physical therapy, but the tai chi intervention was longer than the physical therapy intervention, and no untreated or “usual-care” group was included for comparison. In any event, more nonsurgical treatment options for OA patients are welcome.

Editor Disclosures at Time of Publication

  • Disclosures for Jonathan S. Coblyn, MD at time of publication Consultant / Advisory board CVS Health (member, Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee)

Citation(s):

Reader Comments (2)

Warwick Rivlin Resident

An interesting but poorly-controlled finding:

The PT group had sessions of half the duration for half the duration (6 weeks Vs 12 weeks) & the superiority was found at the 12 week mark - which for the Tai Chi group meant while they were only just completing their therapy, whereas for the PT group there was a 6 week latency between this score and their last treatment - so of course the Tai Chi would show superior efficacy.

Further to this, the greater therapy session duration and encounters found in the Tai Chi group would be more likely to encourage social interactions which wound confound depression and QoL.

Catherine Nichols

how do I get full article?

Your Comment

(will not be published)

Filtered HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Do you have any conflict of interest to disclose?
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Vertical Tabs

* Required

Reader comments are intended to encourage lively discussion of clinical topics with your peers in the medical community. We ask that you keep your remarks to a reasonable length, and we reserve the right to withhold publication of remarks that do not meet this standard.

PRIVACY: We will not use your email address, submitted for a comment, for any other purpose nor sell, rent, or share your e-mail address with any third parties. Please see our Privacy Policy.