A Chinese exercise called Tai Chi may be beneficial for the treatment of arthritis, according to a new analysis.
The analysis demonstrated that Tai Chi could decrease pain, and improve overall physical health, level of tension and satisfaction with health status.
Already, exercise therapy-such as strengthening, stretching and aerobic programs-have been shown to be effective for arthritic pain.
Tai Chi is a form of exercise that is regularly practiced in China to improve overall health and well-being. It is usually preformed in a group, but is also practiced individually at one's leisure, which differs from traditional exercise therapy approaches used in the clinic.
The recent study examined the effectiveness of Tai Chi in decreasing pain and disability and improving physical function and quality of life in people with chronic musculoskeletal pain.
In the study, led by Amanda Hall of The George Institute in Sydney, Australia, a research team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis.
The researchers analysed seven eligible randomised controlled trials that used Tai Chi as the main intervention for patients with musculoskeletal pain.
The results show that Tai Chi improves pain and disability in patients suffering arthritis.
"The fact that Tai Chi is inexpensive, convenient, and enjoyable and conveys other psychological and social benefits supports the use this type of intervention for pain conditions such as arthritis," said the authors.
They added: "It is of importance to note that the results reported in this systematic review are indicative of the effect of Tai Chi versus minimal intervention (usual health care or health education) or wait list control," the authors note. Establishing the specific effects of Tai Chi would require a placebo-controlled trial, which has not yet been undertaken.
The study has been published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.