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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 September 15, 2020

4 Ways to Deal With Big Life Changes in a Positive Way

4 Ways to Deal With Big Life Changes in a Positive Way

Life changes are constant. Whether it’s in the workplace or our relationships, nothing in life ever remains the same for long.

Regardless of the gravity of change, it can always be a little scary. So scary, in fact, that some people are downright crippled by the idea of it, causing them to remain stagnant through anxiety.

Have you ever noticed how much of life’s transitional periods are riddled with anxious vibes? The quarter life crisis, the mid-life crisis, cold feet before getting married, retirement anxiety, and teenage angst are just a few examples of transitional periods when people tend to panic.

We can’t control every aspect of our lives, and we can’t stop change from happening. However, how we respond to change will greatly affect our overall life experience.

Here are 4 ways you can approach life changes in a positive way.

1. Don’t Fight It

I once heard one of my favorite yoga instructors say “Suffering is what occurs when we resist what is already happening.” The lesson has stuck with me ever since.

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Life changes are usually out of our control. Rather than trying to manipulate the situation and wishing things were different, try flowing with it instead.

Of course, some initial resistance is natural if we’re going into survival mode. Just make sure you are conscious of when this resistance is no longer serving you.

If you’re feeling anxious about impending life changes, it’s time to practice some techniques to address the anxiety directly. These can include meditation, exercise, talking with friends about how you’re feeling, or journaling.

If you’re worried about a big life change, such as starting a new job[1] or moving in with your partner, do your best to control your expectations. It may help you to talk with people you know about their experiences going through similar changes. This will help you form a realistic picture in your mind of what things will look like post-change.

2. Find Healthy Ways to Deal With Feelings

Whenever we’re in transitional periods, it can be easy to lose track of ourselves. Sometimes we feel like we’re being tossed about by life and like we’ve lost our footing, causing some very uncomfortable feelings to arise.

One way we can channel these feelings is by finding healthy ways to release them. For instance, whenever I find myself in a difficult transitional phase, I end up in a mixed martial arts studio.

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The physical activity helps me channel my emotions and release endorphins. It also helps me get in shape, which generally increases my mood and energy levels.

Exercise is important in cultivating positive emotions, but if you’re struggling with anxiety in particular, it’s important to cultivate a regular exercise routine as opposed to a one-off workout. One study found that “Aerobic exercise can promote increase in anxiety acutely and regular aerobic exercise promotes reduction in anxiety levels”[2].

If exercise isn’t your thing, there are other, less intense ways of cultivating positive emotions and reducing anxiety around life changes. You can try stretching, meditating, reading in nature, spending time with family and friends, or cooking a healthy meal.

Find what makes you feel good and helps you ground yourself in the present moment.

3. Reframe Your Perspective

Reframing perspectives is a very powerful tool used in life coaching. It helps clients take a situation they are struggling with, such as a major life change, and find some sort of empowerment in it.

Some examples of disempowered thinking during life changes include casting blame, focusing on negative details, or victimizing[3]. These perspectives can make awkward transitional phases much worse than they have to be.

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Meanwhile, if we utilize a more positive perspective, such as finding a lesson in the situation, realizing that there may be an opportunity for something, or that everything passes, we can come from a greater place of ease.

4. Find Time for Self-Reflection

Having time to reflect is important at any stage in your life, but it’s especially important during transitional periods. It’s quite simple really: we need our time to step back and get centered when things get a little crazy.

As a result, big life changes are perfect for doing some self-reflection. They are opportunities to check in with ourselves and practice getting grounded for a few minutes.

Take a look at this reflective cycle adapted from Glibb’s Self-reflection guide (1988):[4]

Use self-reflection when facing life changes.

    Self-reflective exercises include meditating, yoga or journaling,[5] all of which require some quiet time to get yourself together.

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    One study found that journal improves “self-efficacy, locus of control, and learning”[6]. A healthy sense of self-control can make the process of change easier to bear, so that in itself is a great reason to try self-reflection through journaling.

    To learn how to start journaling, you can check out this article.

    Final Thoughts

    Big life changes may rock us for a little while, but they don’t have to be as bad as we initially perceive them. If handled in a positive manner, transitional periods can pave the way for some serious self-growth, reflection, and awareness.

    Cultivate a sense of positivity and find ways to diminish the anxiety around life changes. Once you make it to the other side, you’ll be grateful that you made it through in the best way possible.

    More Tips on Facing Life Changes

    Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

    Reference

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