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Science Finds That Tai Chi Can Heal Your Knee Joints Effectively

Science Finds That Tai Chi Can Heal Your Knee Joints Effectively

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common degenerative joint disease which can lead to joint pain, grinding and cracking of the joints, limited knee function and other difficult signs and symptoms and it puts people at greater risk for falls. Treatment – especially pain control — using traditional methods can be challenging. However, a recently published study has found that alternative methods like tai chi can improve quality of life for those who suffer from arthritis in their knees.

The Latest Study

The latest study on alternative treatments for arthritis of the knee is coming out of Tufts University, where researchers have just published a study which looked at tai chi versus traditional physical therapy methods for improving quality of life for those who have osteoarthritis of the knee.

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Research focused on two groups of participants, all of whom had been diagnosed with arthritis in their knees: one group received 2 days of traditional physical therapy for 6 weeks followed by 6 weeks of at-home therapy, a mainstream approach to arthritis treatment. The second group participated in Wang-style tai chi exercises for 12 weeks.

Researchers checked up on both groups at 12, 24 and 52 weeks. It was found that while both groups showed improvements, the participants that had participated in the tai chi showed significant improvements over the control group at 12 weeks, and at 24 and 52 weeks were found to be using fewer pain pills and reporting less depression, a common symptom for those with this condition. Researchers concluded that “patients and their physicians should discuss tai chi as a therapy option”, especially due to the improvements in mental health found due to participation in tai chi.

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The Treatment Possibilities for OA

This study could potentially have a big impact on those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates will impact as many as 50% of the population by age 85 — and since the 85+ segment of the population is the fastest-growing one in the United States, the problem is a large one just through sheer numbers.

It is also a problem because knee arthritis can be challenging to manage. Current mainstream treatments can center around weight loss to help ease pressure on the joints as well as use of over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen, regular injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid, braces, physical therapy and, if all else fails, surgery. However, all of these treatments come with problems: weight loss can be an enormous challenge for patients of any age and the success rate is low; over-the-counter drugs can cause problems like stomach ulcers and bleeding and injections like corticosteroids, if used in the long term, can cause serious problems like osteoporosis and diabetes. Surgery can bring the risk of complications like infection, slow recovery time, or post-surgical pain.

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That is one of the reasons why so many people seek out complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices for long-term osteoarthritis treatment.  These therapies include supplements like glucosamine which are supposed to help support joint health as well as topical treatments like capsaicin and practices like acupuncture. Tai chi easily fits into the CAM category and with studies like the one discussed above getting attention in the media, more patients might try this practice out for themselves. It appears to be effective with both the physical and psychological effects of osteoarthritis — but without the unwanted side effects of some mainstream therapies.

In short, osteoarthritis of the knee is a difficult condition to live with and to manage from day to day — and can bring with it unfortunate symptoms like depression and an increased risk of falls. However, tai chi appears to be a natural way to help strengthen knee function, reduce pain and improve emotional outlook for those who have to deal with this chronic condition.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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