Tai Chi and Chronic Pain Symptoms

Tai Chi and Chronic Pain Symptoms

symptoms of chronic painMany Americans live with chronic pain in one form or another. About 52.5 million Americans report having been diagnosed with some illness that causes chronic pain, like arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, or fibromyalgia. The symptoms of chronic pain can be very severe and can dramatically affect a person’s quality of life. Finding relief of pain due to chronic pain syndromes can be tough, but according to Harvard Medical School, tai chi could help.

Tai chi is a martial art that began as a form of defensive techniques but has evolved into a method of relaxation and active meditation. Movements are slow and fluid, and people participating in tai chi breathe naturally and deeply while focusing on an area of the body just below the navel, which is said, in the practice, to store the body’s “chi.”

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, tai chi can actually help some chronic pain patients. There are a number of different chronic pain medications and procedures like nerve blocks, minimally invasive surgeries, and the use of ketamine to treat pain, but tai chi could be a good supplement to any of these, not to mention a way to keep active through the symptoms of chronic pain. Compared to a control group, a group of fibromyalgia patients reported less pain, depression, and more sleep after six weeks of tai chi.

In a survey that asked participants about the four most common types of pain, respondents said that back pain was the most common (27%), followed by severe headache and neck pain — both at (15%), and facial pain (4%). Americans spend about $86 billion each year on back pain alone, so finding effective methods is helpful for those who haven’t found relief any other way.

It can be hard, but staying active through chronic pain can actually help relieve it, and tai chi is an easy and low-impact way of doing it. It’s usually practiced in classes where participants learn the moves and exercises, and then do them alone at home.