Everett Chiropractic Center Blog

August 27, 2018

Tai Chi Beats Aerobic Exercise for Fibromyalgia

Filed under: Uncategorized — doctordilday @ 10:57 am

by Damian McNamara

March 22, 2018


Compared with aerobic exercise, the traditional martial art of tai chi is as good as, or better than, aerobic exercise, for improving the overall severity of fibromyalgia symptoms, new research shows.

Results of a 52-week single-blind trial showed that in addition to fibromyalgia symptom relief, tai chi was associated greater improvements in depression, anxiety, self-efficacy, and the mental component of the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) quality-of-life measure.

“Compared with aerobic exercise, the most commonly prescribed non-drug treatment, tai chi appears as effective as or better for managing fibromyalgia,” the investigators, led by Chenchen Wang, MD, Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, write. “This mind-body approach may be considered a therapeutic option in the multidisciplinary management of fibromyalgia.”

The study was published online March 21 in the BMJ.

Complex Disorder

A complex disorder, fibromyalgia is characterized by chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and prominent physical and

psychological impairment, the investigators note. Estimates suggest it affects 2% to 4% of the general population aged 18 to 65 years.

Aerobic exercise is recommended as a standard treatment for fibromyalgia, but many patients find it difficult to exercise because of fluctuations in symptoms. Some trials have suggested that tai chi alleviates pain and improves physical and mental health in patients with fibromyalgia but concluded that larger and more rigorous trials are needed to confirm the results.

In addition, the duration and frequency of tai chi required to achieve optimal benefit are unknown, as is its efficacy compared with that of aerobic exercise in this patient population.

To find out more, the investigators conducted a prospective, randomized, 52-week, single-blind, comparative effectiveness trial.

The study included 226 people with fibromyalgia who were randomly assigned to receive supervised aerobic exercise for 24 weeks, twice weekly (n = 75), or one of four Yang-style supervised tai chi interventions, 12 or 24 weeks once or twice weekly (n = 151).  Participants were followed for 52 weeks. Investigators report adherence was “rigorously” encouraged in person and by telephone.

The study’s primary outcome was change in the revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) scores at 24 weeks compared with baseline. Secondary outcomes included changes of scores in patients’ global assessment, anxiety, depression, self-efficacy, coping strategies, physical functional performance, functional limitation, sleep, and health-related quality of life as measured by the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36).

The mean age of participants was 52 years, 92% were women, the racial/ethnic composition was diverse (61% white), and mean body mass index was 30 kg/m2. The average duration of body pain was 9 years.


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