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Relief for Fibromyalgia Pain: a Dose of Tai Chi

New research suggests practicing tai chi regularly can ease fibromyalgia pain


The New England Journal of Medicine

Prescribing Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia — Are We There Yet?

Gloria Y. Yeh, M.D., M.P.H., Ted J. Kaptchuk and Robert H. Shmerling, M.D.
2010; 363:783-784August 19, 2010

Fibromyalgia is a common and poorly understood pain disorder that afflicts an estimated 200 million or more people worldwide.1 The lack of objective abnormalities detected on physical examination and standard blood and imaging tests has led many physicians to question the existence of this disorder.2 However, for those experiencing the pain and other associated symptoms (including fatigue, stiffness, and nonrestorative sleep), there is little doubt that the condition is real — and so is the need for relief. Studies over the past decade suggest that fibromyalgia may be due, at least in part, to an alteration in pain sensitivity in . . .

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The ancient Chinese practice of tai chi may be effective as a therapy for fibromyalgia, according to a study published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

A clinical trial at Tufts Medical Center found that after 12 weeks of tai chi, patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, did significantly better in measurements of pain, fatigue, physical functioning, sleeplessness and depression than a comparable group given stretching exercises and wellness education. Tai chi patients were also more likely to sustain improvement three months later.

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USA Today: Tai chi may ease fibromyalgia pain

US News and World Report:


Done regularly, tai chi can reduce the risk of falls and injury. It also may improve circulation, flexibility, posture, blood pressure, and heart rate, as well as ease pain, reduce stress, increase energy, and prevent osteoporosis. One study even shows benefits in people with fibromyalgia.

-- Parade Magazine, May 3, 2009


Measurements on both the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and the Short Form-36 revealed significant improvement in symptom management and health-related quality of life.

-- Orthopedic Nursing, 22, 353-60

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Alternative therapies are often explored by CFS patients to relieve symptoms. Acupuncture, hydrotherapy, yoga, tai chi, and massage therapy have been found to help some patients and are often prescribed for symptom management. National Fibromyalgia Association; Friday, April 18, 2008 -- Reprinted from FMOnline

Fibromyalgia is a modern epidemic, a chronic pain condition affecting 6 to 8 percent of the U.S. population.

T'ai Chi has been recommended by some health professionals as a very desirable adjunct therapy for sufferers. In 2000, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore's study of a nonpharmacologic intervention in fibromyalgia resulted in Twenty of 28 subjects completed at least 5 of the 8 sessions of a Qigong Program. Significant improvement was seen in the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire and a range of other outcome measures including tender points and pain threshold. Improvement was sustained 4 months after the end of the intervention.

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* NOTE: World Tai Chi & Qigong Day advises consulting your physician before beginning any new exercise, herbal, diet, or health program. The research listed here is meant to stimulate a discussion between you and your physician, health insurance carrier, etc., not as medical advise. Research and comments provided here are hoped to stimulate a more robust discussion of powerful natural mind/body health tools.
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Popular media, health media, and government must increase attention to stunning emerging research, including the UCLA study indicating Tai Chi participants enjoyed a 50% increase in immune system resistance to viral infection.

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