Tag Archives: osteoarthritis

Tai Chi may help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms

People over 65 with knee osteoarthritis have less pain and better physical function if they take up regular Tai Chi exercise, a new study has found.

Tai Chi is a traditional style of Chinese martial arts that features slow, rhythmic movements to induce mental relaxation and enhance balance, strength, and flexibility.

In the study, patients were asked to participate in 60-minute Tai Chi sessions twice weekly for 12 weeks. Each session included: a 10-minute self-massage; 30 minutes of Tai Chi movement; 10 minutes of breathing technique; and 10 minutes of relaxation.

At the end of the 12-week period, the people in the study practicing Tai Chi exhibited a significant decrease in knee pain.

The researchers also observed improved physical function and self-efficacy in the Tai Chi group.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi

“Tai Chi is a mind-body approach that appears to be an applicable treatment for older adults with knee osteoarthritis,” the researchers said.

They added that physical components of Tai Chi are consistent with current exercise recommendations for osteoarthritis, which include range of motion, flexibility, muscle conditioning, and aerobic work out.

The researchers also believe that the mental feature of Tai Chi addresses negative effects of chronic pain by promoting psychological wellbeing, life satisfaction, and perceptions of health.

The study was published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

Ibuprofen or paracetamol?

John Dickson, a Middlesbrough GP and community rheumatologist, was once a clinical adviser for Nice guidance on osteoarthritis.

He says that concerns about the safety of paracetamol go back to the Sixties, but were largely dismissed because drugs such as aspirin and morphine were thought more dangerous.

This is thanks to aspirin’s risk of stomach bleeding and morphine’s risk of overdose and addiction.

‘This issue has taken about 45 years to come to a head,’ he says. ‘Research shows that paracetamol can act as a placebo for relieving acute and chronic pain. But it is not a safe placebo, like a dummy sugar pill.

‘Thanks to the damage it can cause to the kidneys and cardiovascular system, it is at least as dangerous as regularly taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.’

Dr Dickson is particularly concerned by research showing that sustained paracetamol use over months or years causes gastric bleeding.

‘This is particularly dangerous for elderly people, because this causes the loss of haemoglobin – the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen.

‘This significantly harms their quality of life by making them feel ill and listless.’ There may be another reason to be wary.

The U.S. drug watchdog, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been issuing warnings about paracetamol and its potential link with rare but serious skin reactions.



These reactions – Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis and acute generalised exanthematous pustulosis – are excruciating, with the skin separating from the body and sloughing off, with fatal consequences.

The FDA has said: ‘These reactions can occur with first-time use of paracetamol or at any time while it is being taken.

‘Any patient who develops a skin rash or reaction while using paracetamol should stop the drug and seek urgent medical attention right away.’

Other American research has linked long-term use of paracetamol with blood cancer.

In one study of nearly 65,000 people, taking paracetamol for at least four days a week for four years was linked to nearly double the risk of being diagnosed with leukaemia or lymphoma.

The possible mechanism for this risk has not yet been identified.