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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Journal Article
Journal of Pain, 2016, 17 (9), pp. 1013 - 1027
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This study aimed to test the efficacy of Tai Chi for treating chronic neck pain. Subjects with chronic non-specific neck pain were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of group Tai Chi or conventional neck exercises with weekly sessions of 75-90 minutes, or a wait-list control. The primary outcome measure was pain intensity (visual analog scale, VAS). Secondary outcomes included pain on movement, functional disability, quality of life, well-being and perceived stress, postural and interoceptive awareness, satisfaction and safety. Altogether, 114 participants were included (91 females, 49.4±11.7 years). After 12 weeks Tai Chi participants reported significantly less pain compared to the wait list (average difference in mm VAS: -10.5; 95%CI:-20.3,-0.9;p=0.033). Group differences were also found for pain on movement, functional disability and quality of life compared to wait list. No differences were found for Tai Chi compared to neck exercises. Patients' satisfaction with both exercise interventions was high, and only minor side effects were observed. Tai Chi was more effective than no treatment in improving pain in subjects with chronic non-specific neck pain. Since Tai Chi is probably as effective as neck exercises it may be considered a suitable alternative to conventional exercises for those with a preference towards Tai Chi.
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