Tai chi for osteoarthritis: a systematic review.

Lee MS, Pittler MH, Ernst E

The aim of this study was to evaluate data from controlled clinical trials testing the effectiveness of tai chi for treating osteoarthritis. All controlled trials of tai chi for patients with osteoarthritis were considered for inclusion. Five randomised clinical trials (RCTs) and seven non-randomised controlled clinical trials (CCTs) met all inclusion criteria. Five RCTs assessed the effectiveness of tai chi on pain of osteoarthritis (OA). Two RCTs suggested significant pain reduction compared to routine treatment and an attention control program in knee OA. Three RCTs did not report significant pain reduction on multiple sites pain. Four RCTs tested tai chi for physical functions. Two of these RCTs suggested improvement of physical function on activity of daily living compared to routine treatment or wait-list control, whilst two other RCTs failed to do so.

There is some encouraging evidence suggesting that tai chi may be effective for pain control in patients with knee OA. However, the evidence is not convincing for pain reduction or improvement of physical function. Future RCTs should assess larger patient samples for longer treatment periods and use appropriate controls.

Clinical Rheumatology, 2008, 27(2), 211-8

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