Tai chi offers short-term improvement of pain, physical function and stiffness for people with knee osteoarthritis, according to a research review published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2013; 21 , 396-406).
Scientists from University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany, reviewed five randomized, controlled trials with a total of 252 patients to assess the short- and long-term effectiveness of tai chi for people with this type of arthritis.
Study authors noted that tai chi is likely to be effective because physical activity increases muscular strength and flexibility; stabilizes the knee joint; and helps to improve balance and reduce the risk of falling. The meditative aspect of tai chi may reduce stress and improve feelings of well-being.
This moderate evidence may be sufficient to preliminarily recommend tai chi as an adjunctive treatment for people with knee osteoarthritis, suggested the authors, who called for more research to confirm these results.