Health > Learn how Tai Chi can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Pain
7th Jul 2022
TAICHI Prefect for Osteoarthritis Management

Learn how Tai Chi can Help Manage Osteoarthritis Pain

Knee-related osteoarthritis (OA) is a rising issue among seniors, resulting in constant discomfort, functional limitations and impairment, lower quality of life, and substantial medical costs. The pathophysiology behind knee osteoarthritis is a complex process and includes the decline of the articular structures, impaired function of muscles as well as psychological causes of chronic pain. It is difficult to devise ways to prevent the condition or develop effective treatments for treating diseases in seniors currently treating knee osteoarthritis. The most effective arthritis treatment includes physical therapy such as exercises to strengthen muscles and aerobic exercises. They offer pain limitation and physical performance benefits, but may not affect the psychological state of a person dramatically.


What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese exercise that improves range and motion, self-efficacy, and balance.

Although Tai Chi has been widely practiced over the last two decades, there was not enough evidence to support its efficacy in helping deal with knee OA. While there were some benefits in an extensive controlled study that was controlled and randomised (RCT), however, it was hard to assess the results. There were limitations to the study’s methodological approach, including the inclusion and confirmation in radiography of hip joint disorders and knee OA.

A well-designed study can override the limitations of previous studies. A more recent study was conducted over 12 weeks to evaluate the effects of Tai Chi on pain, functioning independence (an indicator of disease activity), and health-related quality of life for those suffering from knee OA. As a result, it was hypothesised that Tai Chi practitioners would experience higher improvements in arthritis knee pain, and general well-being than those on an attention-control program. This is in addition to stretching and training. It is speculated that these advantages in patients would result from the muscles’ improved function, flexibility in the musculoskeletal structure, and enhanced mental health.


What Happens in Tai Chi Class?

Tai Chi movements are rich in natural symbolism, such as “Wind Rolls With Lotus Leaves,” “Brush Dust Against The Wind”, and “White Crane Spreads Wings.” These moves are very practical. People with arthritis symptoms in their knees tend not to bend their knees as much when walking, which causes a stiffer gait. Morrill says that tai-chi exercises can increase knee flexibility.

In the movement “Wave Hands like Clouds,” the attention is on the hands, which seem to be floating in the air like clouds. Cate Morrill, a Tai Chi instructor explained that while the hands move, the rest is still in slow motion. The hips control the body’s movement. As one leg bends, the rest of the body stretches. To strengthen the shoulder muscles, the arms rotate at the shoulder, encouraging the arms to stretch fully. The body is slightly twisted as weight is transferred to increase flexibility and strength in the side muscles.

Morrill says that this movement will only last two minutes. Participants will be able to complete at least 20 sets of moves during a class.

She adds that someone with arthritis should never learn Tai Chi by watching a DVD or video. It is important to learn Tai Chi in a class with a qualified instructor who has experience working with people with arthritis. “A person with severe arthritis may have difficulty performing the same moves as someone with mild arthritis. The instructor’s job is to modify movement so that each student feels as comfortable as possible and chooses the most suitable moves”, says Morrill.


Benefits of Tai Chi for Osteoarthritis 

Tai Chi can help ease the pain of various types of arthritis or other ailments which cause joint pain. It also aids in preventing the growth of pain in the future.


1. Exercise, in general, is good for health

It’s important to have strong muscles. The stronger your muscles and tissues surrounding joints are, the stronger they’ll be. If you don’t perform any exercise, your muscles are more likely to shrink, and bones may become osteoporotic. Tai Chi helps pump fluids and blood around the body through muscles, joints, and tendons, which assists in strengthening and altering the muscles and tissues of the body.

The Journal of Rheumatology (September 2003) published a study on the Tai Chi program for arthritis, which showed it was reliable and safe. It was tested with osteoarthritis patients subjected to Tai Chi for 12 weeks instead of a comparable group who received traditional treatment. The participants who took part in Tai Chi had 30% less pain and an improvement of 5% in their performance in everyday activities.

The Arthritis Care and Research Journal released the most comprehensive study on Tai Chi for arthritis on April 7, 2007. It was published in the Arthritis Care and Research Journal. Experts agreed that Tai Chi could improve flexibility and strength, strengthen muscles, and increase fitness.


2. Increases flexibility

Tai Chi can help reduce stiffness in joints. Therefore, this training can greatly increase flexibility.

The Atlanta FICSIT team investigated more than 200 people (162 males and females). They found a 47.5 percent decrease in falls among those who participated in the Tai Chi program.


3. Enhances the strength and force of muscles

Tai Chi helps strengthen your muscles and prevent injuries. The exercise also helps strengthen the muscles, improving one’s overall health, and quality of life by increasing one’s ability to move with self-confidence.

Many of the world’s most famous athletes suffer from osteoarthritis because of injuries or trauma.


4. Better physical condition

The heart and lungs are strengthened by exercise that supports them.

The Sydney Arthritis Association conducted a study in which 126 people with acute myocardial damage (heart attack) were split into two groups. The first group trained in Tai Chi, while the other was untrained. The trained group showed an improvement in their physical condition.


5. Better adjustment to position

Our body’s posture is crucial for our well-being. The potential of our minds has not yet been fully realised. Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for the body and mind, and it also teaches the pupil to tap into the internal energy at his disposal to help him achieve control and mental endurance.



Osteoarthritis causes a lot of pain to the patient. So, introduce the seniors to Tai Chi and help them alleviate their pain. However, remember, it’s important to have proper tutors for any kind of physical activity. Consult your physician before joining Tai-Chi classes.



Does Tai Chi help osteoarthritis?

There were significant differences between study participants who practiced Tai Chi twice a week and those who participated in wellness education and stretching programs regarding arthritis pain and disability. Patients with Tai Chi showed improvement in osteoarthritis pain.


Can people with arthritis do Tai Chi?

The Arthritis Foundation is just one of many major health organisations that recommend Tai Chi because it’s a great exercise that focuses on the mind and the body. As a result of the low-impact nature of this type of exercise, it is one of the most useful exercises for people with arthritis.


Is Tai Chi good for knee osteoarthritis?

There is no denying that Tai Chi is a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints, which is why experts recommend it for their clients. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal in 2016, there may be benefits of this treatment, namely, it may be as effective as physical therapy in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis (OA).