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Cornell Researchers Confirm Self-management Strategies, Including Tai Chi, Effective for Older Adults with Chronic Pain

March 2008 - Self-management strategies for pain hold substantial promise as a means of reducing pain and improving function among older adults with chronic pain, but their use in this age group has not been well defined.

To address this issue, several researchers from the Medical College of Cornell University reviewed the evidence regarding self-management interventions for pain due to musculoskeletal disorders among older adults. They searched through such prominent medical information database as Medline and Allied Health Literature databases and identified 27 relevant articles.

These articles evaluated programs including yoga, massage therapy, Tai Chi, and music therapy. Positive outcomes were found in 96% of the studies. Proportionate change in pain scores ranged from an increase of 18% to a reduction of 85% (the median is 23% reduction), whereas change in disability scores ranged from an increase of 2% to a reduction of 70% (the median is 19% reduction). But they generally included limited enrollment of ethnic minority elders, as well as non-ethnic elders aged 80 and above.

These researchers concluded that a broad range of self-management programs may provide benefits for older adults with chronic pain, but research is needed to establish the efficacy of the programs in diverse age and ethnic groups of older adults and identify strategies that maximize program reach, retention, and methods to ensure continued use of the strategies over time.

The article is published in the March 2008 issue of Pain Medicine.


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