The effects of Tai Chi and neck exercises in the treatment of chronic non-specific neck pain – A randomized controlled trial

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Conference Proceeding
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2016, 22 (6), pp. A15 - A15
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Purpose: Tai Chi seems effective for many musculoskeletal conditions. This study aimed to test the efficacy of Tai Chi and neck exercises for treating chronic non-specific neck pain. Methods: Patients suffering from chronic non-specific neck pain were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of group Tai Chi or neck exercises, or usual care. Patients attended weekly sessions of 75–90 minutes, and were advised to practice 15 minutes daily. The primary outcome measure was pain intensity (visual analog scale). Secondary outcomes included pain on movement, functional disability, quality of life, psychological well-being and perceived stress, postural and interoceptive awareness, satisfaction and safety. Results: A total of 114 patients were included in this study (91 females, 49.4 ± 11.7 years). After 12 weeks patients practicing Tai Chi reported significantly less pain compared to usual care (difference: −10.5; 95% CI: −20.3, −0.9; p = 0.033). Significant effects were also found for pain on movement, functional disability and quality of life compared to usual care. No group differences were found for Tai Chi compared to neck exercises. Changes in pain intensity were predicted by age and baseline pain intensity, changes in postural awareness and the number of attended classes. Patients were satisfied with both active interventions and only minor side effects were observed. Conclusion: Twelve weeks of Tai Chi were more effective than usual care to improve pain, disability, quality of life and postural control in patients with chronic non-specific neck pain. Since Tai Chi was equally efficacious, it may be considered a suitable alternative for conventional neck exercises.
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