Pain-catastrophizing and the Effect of Tai Chi for Low Back Pain
April 21, 2016 -
There is evidence to support the
effectiveness of Tai Chi for
reducing pain-related symptoms across multiple musculoskeletal conditions,
however, the mechanism(s) are unclear. Researchers from the University of
Oxford, the University of Sydney and the University of Manchester collaborated
on a study to explore the role of pain-catastrophizing as a possible mediator in
the relationship between practicing Tai chi and
back pain symptoms.
Adults with persistent low back pain were
recruited via community advertisement in Sydney, Australia. They were randomly
assigned to the group for a 10-week Tai Chi intervention
or to a wait-list control group.
Patients completed self-assessments of pain
intensity and bothersome-ness using 0-10 numerical rating scales, disability
using the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire and pain catastrophizing using
the Pain Coping Strategies Questionnaire pre and post intervention.
The results suggest partial mediation, by
which a reduction in catastrophizing explained approximately 1/3 of the effect
on pain intensity and bothersome-ness and 2/3 of the effect on disability.
As the first known mediation analysis of Tai Chi for reducing low back pain-symptoms,
it provides initial evidence that it may do so by having an effect on cognitive
appraisal outcomes such as pain-catastrophizing and information for choosing
appropriate process measures for future studies. As Tai Chi is growing in popularity as an
alternative treatment for patients with chronic musculoskeletal conditions, it
is important to gain a better understanding of how it might work using
confirmatory mediation analysis alongside future clinical trials.
The findings are published by the
journal Complementary Therapies in
Medicine in April, 2016.