Thursday, August 28, 2008

Osteoarthritis (OA): Can Chinese Therapy Qigong Treat it?

Osteoarthritis is a challenging medical condition to live with. While there are phrama drugs available to treat it, can “Qigong,” a traditional Chinese practice effective enough to relieve the patients?

The practice of Qigong refers to a large variety practices, which can be classified as alternative medicine, that entail methods for accumulating, circulating, and working with “Qi,” or the energy within the body. It usually includes a set of exercises, physical movements, and meditation.

If the scientists at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) are to be believed, then Qigong therapy might very well be a potential complementary treatment for osteoarthritis but depending upon the ability of the trainer.

On the face of it the findings appears to be clouded with a halo of skepticism with which most alternative and complementary medicine practices are perceived. And there's a good reason for it, because in today's science based technological society all claims require proofs, while there are only a numbered evidence based claims supporting the efficacy of alternative treatments.

However, the researchers at the from NJ also have good reasons to present the findings of the study titled, “Effects of external Qigong therapy on osteoarthritis of the knee."

The Acid Test Of Qigong

To test the effectiveness of Qigong, researchers engages two Qigong therapists who performed hand movements akin to therapeutic touch, acupressure on specific points, focused attention etc. Following which the OA patients reported a good degree of pain reduction and and improved functionality in varying degrees.

The philosophy of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) reasons that good health exists because "qi," the body's inherent energy is well-balanced. And there's disease when there's a blockage of the "qi" flow, or its balance is disturbed.

While the mechanism underlying the patients reports may not be well-known, they did report improvement. Perhaps it's just a “placebo effect,” or relaxation induced by the treatment, the critics might question. I think that more research needs to be conducted, which would throw more light on its effectiveness. And the researchers have themselves stated that “further research needs to be conducted.”

And if further results also support the therapy's efficacy, then patients would have a proven alternative or complementary treatment option along with pharmaceutical drugs.

Separately, there was a report of technology aiding Osteoarthritis (OA), treatment, see: (OA) Better Outcome Through Technology

And there's another intriguing development in weighloss surgery, see: Incision-Free Weight Loss Surgery!

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