PainTai Chi

Review: Tai chi for chronic musculoskeletal pain

Tai-Chi-SymbolResearchers from The University of Sydney, Sydney, in Australia reviewed the literature.

First, the details.

  • 7 studies were selected for review.
    • 6 studied people with chronic arthritis.
    • 1 studied people with chronic tension headaches.
  • The studies were generally small and of low quality.

And, the results.

  • Improvement using a 0-100 point scale was 10 points for pain reduction and 10 for disability reduction.
  • Additionally, physical performance and health-related quality of life favored tai chi; however, significant changes were limited to improved tension and satisfaction with general health.

The bottom line?

The authors tell us, “The available data on the effect of tai chi are sparse and derived principally from low-quality studies.”

Based on these results, there appears to be a small positive effect on pain and disability in people with arthritis. The extent to which it benefits other forms of musculoskeletal pain is unclear.

12/9/09 21:27 JR

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.