Tai chi is a centuries-old, mind and body practice. It involves certain postures and gentle movements with mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. The movements can be adapted or practiced while walking, standing, or sitting. Several clinical trials have evaluated the effects of tai chi in people with various health conditions. Here are five things to know about tai chi for chronic pain.
- Research findings suggest that practicing tai chi may improve balance and stability in older people and reduce the risk of falls. There is also some evidence that tai chi may improve balance impairments in people with mid-to-moderate Parkinson’s disease.
- There is some evidence to suggest that practicing tai chi may help people manage chronic pain associated with knee osteoarthritis and help people with fibromyalgia sleep better and cope with pain, fatigue, and depression.
- Although tai chi has not been shown to have an effect on the disease activity of rheumatoid arthritis (e.g., tender and swollen joints, activities of daily living), there is some evidence that tai chi may improve lower extremity (ankle) range of motion in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It is not known if tai chi improves pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis or quality of life.
- Tai chi may promote quality of life and mood in people with heart failure and cancer. Tai chi also may offer psychological benefits, such as reducing anxiety. However, differences in how the research on anxiety was conducted make it difficult to draw firm conclusions about this.
- Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.