The Effectiveness of Tai Chi for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions
September 26, 2016 -
Tai Chi is recommended for musculoskeletal conditions, however, the evidence for its clinical effectiveness is uncertain. A group of researchers from the University of Oxford and The University of Sydney worked together to determine whether Tai Chi is beneficial for clinical outcomes in people with musculoskeletal pain.
They reviewed randomized controlled trials of Tai Chi for people with a chronic musculoskeletal condition were included. Two reviewers extracted data and rated risk of bias. Standardized mean differences and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for individual trials and pooled effect sizes were calculated using a random effects model.
15 studies were identified including people with osteoarthritis (80%), back pain (13%) and headache (7%). Using the GRADE approach, the researchers found moderate quality evidence that Tai Chi is more effective than no treatment or usual care at short term on pain and disability. The evidence for other outcomes was of low or very low quality and there was little information regarding long-term effects. Thus, while the number of publications in this area has increased, the rigor has not, hindering our ability to provide reliable recommendations for clinical practice.
In order for Tai Chi to be recommended as an effective intervention, the researchers think more high quality trials with large sample sizes assessing Tai Chi versus other evidence-based treatments at short and long-term are needed.
Their findings are published in September, 2016 by the journal Physical therapy.