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Qigong Has Considerable Potential for Fibromyalgia

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December 15, 2014 -
Qigong is currently considered as meditative movement, mindful exercise, or complementary exercise and is being explored for relief of symptoms in fibromyalgia.  A recent review published in Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine summarizes randomized controlled trials, as well as additional studies, of Qigong published to the end of 2013 and discusses relevant methodological issues. 

Controlled trials indicate regular Qigong practice (daily, 6-8 weeks) produces improvements in core domains for fibromyalgia (pain, sleep, impact, and physical and mental function) that are maintained at 4-6 months compared to wait-list subjects or baselines. Comparisons with active controls show little difference, but compared to baseline there are significant and comparable effects in both groups. Open-label studies provide information that supports benefit but remain exploratory. An extension trial and case studies involving extended practice (daily, 6-12 months) indicate marked benefits but are limited by the number of participants. Benefit appears to be related to amount of practice. 

In conclusions, there is considerable potential for Qigong to be a useful complementary practice for the management of fibromyalgia. However, there are unique methodological challenges, and exploration of its clinical potential will need to focus on pragmatic issues and consider a spectrum of trial designs. Mechanistic considerations need to consider both system-wide and more specific effects.

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