Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art practise, may be as effective as exercises in relieving persistent neck pain, a new Harvard study has claimed. Researchers investigated the efficacy of group Tai Chi compared with group neck exercises and no treatment to improve neck pain, disability and quality of life in groups of people with nonspecific chronic neck pain. They made the hypothesis that 12 weeks of Tai Chi would prove superior to no treatment for chronic neck pain. The study also explored whether Tai Chi was more and less effective than conventional neck exercises.
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One hundred fourteen subjects were enrolled in the trial. Eligibility requirements were age 18 years or older and having chronic neck pain for three consecutive months.
“The study showed that 12 weeks of Tai Chi was more effective than no treatment to improve pain, disability, quality of life and postural control in persons with chronic neck pain,” said Peter M Wayne, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in the US.
He added that Tai Chi was neither superior nor inferior to 12 weeks of neck exercises.
Tai chi is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defence training and its health benefits. It involves integrated dynamic musculoskeletal breathing and meditation training.
Tai chi often is used for healthcare purposes and evidence supports its potential to help people with back pain, rheumatologic disease and psychological disorders.
No studies had been performed previously to determine Tai Chi’s benefits in relieving chronic neck pain.