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Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors

(HealthDay News) -- Want to improve that osteoarthritis in your knee? New research suggests that regular Tai Chi exercise can reduce pain and help your knee function better.

"Tai Chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be an applicable treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis," Dr. Chenchen Wang, co-author of a study published in the November issue of Arthritis Care & Research, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

In the United States, an estimated 4.3 million adults over 60 suffer from this form of arthritis. As many as half of American adults may develop symptoms by age 85, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently.

Wang and colleagues from Tufts University School of Medicine recruited 40 patients, with an average age of 65, who had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis.

Half of the group took part in Yang-style Tai Chi sessions for an hour at a time, twice weekly over a period of three months. The Tai Chi session consisted of 10-minutes of self-message and review, a half hour of movement, 10 minutes of breathing exercises and 10 minutes of relaxing.

The other participants took two 60-minute classes per week for three months and learned about issues such as diet and nutrition, and treatments for osteoarthritis. They also stretched for 20 minutes.

Those who practiced Tai Chi had significantly less knee pain than the other group and also reported less depression, more physical function and better overall health.

"Our observations emphasize a need to further evaluate the biologic mechanisms and approaches of Tai Chi to extend its benefits to a broader population," Wang said.

SOURCES: Arthritis Care & Research, news release, Oct. 29, 2009 Published on: October 29, 2009