New research encourages fibromyalgia sufferers to practice tai chi for pain relief
The origin of fibromyalgia is unknown, but the painful symptoms associated with fibromyalgia are all too real. Millions of Americans suffer from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder which causes sufferers to feel heightened pain responses. Fibromyalgia patients often experience severe joint and muscular pain, depression and insomnia. Pain killers and muscle relaxants offer little relief for chronic pain patients.
Read: How to Tell if Chronic Pain is Fibromyalgia: 18 Pressure Points
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, fibromyalgia patients can find relief in the ancient Chinese practice of tai chi.
- In this small study conducted by Tufts Medical Center, 33 voluntary fibromyalgia patients were given tai chi classes twice per week, while 33 other chronic pain sufferers were given simple stretching classes, also two times per week.
- After 12 weeks, the participants who practiced tai chi reported feeling less muscular pain, were well rested, and scored better on physical fitness tests.
- Out of the control group who took the tai chi classes, 1 out of 3 patients were able to stop taking pain medications. Only 1 out of 6 patients who took the stretching classes were able to wean off their meds.
- Chronic pain sufferers who have difficulty participating in an aerobics or strength training class have no qualms keeping up with the slow, gentle movements characteristic of tai chi martial arts.
- Tai chi incorporates focused breathing throughout the course which many fibromyalgia sufferers find relaxing, allowing them moments of tranquility- a luxury they seldom have an opportunity to indulge in.
- Scientists explain that attaining a state of relaxation “raises the pain thresholds and helps break the pain cycle.”
- The Mayo Clinic touts the benefits of tai chi for cardiovascular health and stress relief, calling it a “meditation in motion.”
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LA Times, U.S.News & World Report, Web MD, NY Times, New England Journal of Medicine