Prof. Ernst and his associates at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, UK set their sites on tai chi.

Yes, “there is some encouraging evidence suggesting that tai chi may be effective for pain control in patients with knee osteoarthritis.”

First, the details.

  • They searched the medical literature hither and yon, not to mention from pillar to post.

And, the results.

  • 12 studies were worth reviewing.
  • In patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, 2 studies suggested significant pain reduction with tai chi vs routine treatment and an attention control program, based on the response using a visual analogue scale or Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC).
  • 3 studies did not report significant pain reduction.
  • 2 studies suggested improved physical function on activities of daily living or WOMAC vs routine treatment or wait-list control.
  • 2 other studies did not.
    • Activities of daily living include bathing, showering, dressing, getting in or out of bed or a chair, using the toilet, and eating.

The bottom line?
Yes, there’s some encouraging evidence. But, it’s “not convincing for pain reduction or improvement of physical function.”

5/10/08 21:15JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.