Tai Chi Compares to Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis

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Tai Chi Compares to Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis: A New Study Explains

What is Tai Chi? 

A recent study presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology showed that Tai Chi can improve the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis as much as or more than standard physical therapy.

Dr. Chenchen Wang from Tufts University School of Medicine, who reported the findings of the study, states that Tai Chi has vast benefits over standard stretches and wellness education because it involves the mind, body, and spirit.

In the study, 204 patients who met the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to two groups. One group completed a 12-week classical Yang style Tai Chi class for one hour twice a week, and a second group participated in standard physical therapy for 30 minutes twice a week for six weeks. Subjects in the second group also received an initial evaluation and personalized therapy to address specific treatment goals and were prescribed exercises to practice at home for 30 minutes four times a week.

The study found that both groups required less pain medication during the trial. From examination of multiple measures of pain and physical functioning, Tai Chi participants showed more improvement with regard to scores on the walk test, Beck Depression Inventory, Global Assessment of Functioning Scale, 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey, and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) than patients receiving standard physical therapy.

So what does this mean? This study shows that elements in Tai Chi provide a safe and effective therapy option to help reduce pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis. As Dr. Allen stated, “It’s low-cost and low risk.”

Tai Chi classes are offered at local gyms, health clubs, community centers, and senior centers, and schedules are often available online.


Wang, C., et al. (2014). Assessing the comparative effectiveness of Tai Chi versus physical therapy for knee osteoarthritis: Design and rationale for a randomized trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14, 333.

Dr. Heintze practices in Seattle, WA and specializes in pain management and migraines. For more information, please visit: startingpointacupuncture.com

Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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