Effects of Qigong Therapy on Arthritis: A Review and Report of a Pilot Trial

Author: Chen KW 1//Liu T 2
Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 671 Hoes Lane West UBHC-D453, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA; Fax: 732-235-5818; E-mail: chenke@umdnj.edu [1]//Laboratory of Qigong Research, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China [2]
Conference/Journal: Medical Paradigm
Date published: 2004
Other: Volume ID: 1 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 1-14 , Word Count: 304


Background: Patients with chronic pain, like arthritis, are increasingly seeking alternatives to Western medicine. Many have benefited from acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) therapy. TCM theory purports that arthritis is due to a blockage of the qi flow. Qigong therapy, like acupuncture, is said to alter qi flow and strengthen internal qi, either through self-practice or through external qi emission.

Objective: To review the literature of qigong therapy for arthritis, to help further understanding of the possible applications of qigong therapy in pain relief, and to report the results of an open pilot study of external qi therapy for arthritis.

Methods: Literature derived from Medline, Qigong Database, China National Knowledge Infra-structure (CNKI), and the library database at the Beijing University of Medicine cover both the reviews of open trials without control and randomized control trials. In our open trial, 10 patients with arthritis were recruited, and six of them completed all 3 treatments and a 1-month follow-up exam.
Measures: In our pilot study, the visual analogue scales (VAS) on pain and mood were used pre- and post-treatment. Other measures included the physical disability scale; the Spielberger anxiety scale, and the swollen/tender joint count.

Results: All patients in our study reported some degree of symptom relief, reduction in pain and negative mood, a decreased anxiety score, and reduced active pain/tenderness in joints (except one subject), and reduction in movement difficulty scores. Two participants reported complete relief without any 1 month after the treatment.

Conclusions: The literature review suggests that there is strong evidence for a therapeutic effect of qigong on reducing pain and relieving the symptoms of arthritis. Although our pilot trial is far from conclusive due to the small sample size without control, the results suggest that further studies are warranted to determine the efficacy of qigong therapy for arthritis with a larger sample.

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