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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

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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