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Follow the latest research regarding osteoarthrtis treatment options.

Tai Chi Moves Body and Mind to Relieve Pain

Tai chi (“tie chee”) looks so gentle, but it packs a powerful punch. The ancient Chinese system of exercise combines slow, flowing, dance-like movements with mental focus and deep breathing. Fans of tai chi say it’s great for fitness, relaxation and concentration. Now two well-designed studies (Arthritis Care and Research, April 15, 2007; Clinical Rehabilitation, February 2007) show that it also might help improve joint symptoms in people with knee or hip osteoarthritis.

Different studies, similar results

One small study by researchers at Texas Tech University included 41 older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee. These older adults were randomly divided into two groups. One group took part in tai chi classes for six weeks, followed by another six weeks of practice at home. The other group attended health lectures instead. At study’s end, those in the tai chi group, but not the lecture group, had slightly decreased joint pain. In addition, the tai chi group had somewhat better improved physical function compared to the lecture group.

A second study by Australian researchers also found encouraging results. This study included 152 older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. The participants were randomly divided into three groups: tai chi classes, water exercise classes or a waiting list. After 12 weeks, those in both the tai chi and water exercise groups reported moderate improvements in physical function, although only water exercise led to slightly decreased pain. The benefits were still evident three months after the classes ended.

Tai chi basics

Tai chi originated as a martial art in China around the 12th century AD. Over time, people began using it for health purposes as well. Tai chi is designed to balance life energy, known as qi (“chee”) in traditional Chinese medicine. By restoring this balance, it’s thought to help the body heal itself and return to a normal, healthy state.

Whether or not you buy into this explanation, it’s clear that tai chi is a good way to stay active. And physical activity, in turn, promotes overall health. Among other benefits, tai chi may help improve balance, flexibility and muscle strength.

The bottom line

Many people do tai chi to enhance their health and feel better. Because it’s such a gentle form of exercise, tai chi seems especially well suited to those with arthritis. Research suggests that it may help reduce joint pain, stiffness and disability for people with osteoarthritis.

Tai chi requires strict attention to body posture and breathing, so it’s best learned from an instructor rather than a book or video. Some Arthritis Foundation® chapters offer tai chi classes that are specially designed for people with arthritis and don’t require deep bending or squatting. If such classes aren’t available in your area, tai chi also is taught at many recreational centers, health clubs and private studios. There is no standard credentialing for instructors, so always ask about a prospective teacher’s training and experience. If you decide to sign up for a class, be sure to tell your instructor about your osteoarthritis. Also, ask your doctor whether you might need to modify any moves.

PLEASE NOTE: The studies and their findings that are presented in this article are for informational purposes only and are not meant to take the place of the advice of your doctor. By providing you with this information, Sanofi Biosurgery is not endorsing its content nor does it represent that the information is necessarily appropriate for you. You should consult with your doctor before starting any new health or exercise regimen.

Arthritis Foundation is a registered trademark of the Arthritis Foundation®.

References

“Tai chi.” National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi. Accessed September 6, 2011.

“Group and Home-Based Tai Chi in Elderly Subjects With Knee Osteoarthritis: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” J.M. Brismée et al. Clinical Rehabilitation. February 2007, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 99-111.

“Physical Activity for Osteoarthritis Management: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial Evaluating Hydrotherapy or Tai Chi Classes.” M. Fransen et al. Arthritis Care and Research. April 15, 2007, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 407-414.

“Alternative Treatments for Arthritis: An A to Z Guide.” D. Foltz-Gray. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation, 2005, pp. 226-227.

“The Effect of Tai Chi on Health Outcomes in Patients With Chronic Conditions: A Systematic Review.” C. Wang et al. Archives of Internal Medicine. March 8, 2004, vol. 164, no. 5, pp. 493-501.

“Improvement in Balance, Strength, and Flexibility After 12 Weeks of Tai Chi Exercise in Ethnic Chinese Adults With Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors.” R.E. Taylor-Piliae et al. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. March/April 2006, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 50-58.

“Tai chi: Discover the many possible health benefits.” Mayo Clinic. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA000877.  Accessed September 6, 2011.

“Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi Program.” Arthritis Foundation. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/events/getinvolved/ProgramsServices/taichi.asp. Accessed September 6, 2011.

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Indication

Synvisc-One® (hylan G-F 20) is indicated for the treatment of pain in osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conservative non-pharmacologic therapy and simple analgesics, e.g., acetaminophen.

Important Safety Information for Synvisc-One

Before trying Synvisc-One, tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face, tongue or throat, respiratory difficulty, rash, itching or hives to SYNVISC or any hyaluronan-based products. Allergic reactions, some which can be potentially severe, have been reported during the use of Synvisc-One. Should not be used in patients with an infected knee joint, skin disease or infection around the area where the injection will be given, and should be used with caution when there is swelling of the legs due to problems with venous stasis or lymphatic drainage.

Synvisc-One is only for injection into the knee, performed by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. Synvisc-One has not been tested to show pain relief in joints other than the knee. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to products from birds – such as feathers, eggs or poultry – or if your leg is swollen or infected.

Synvisc-One has not been tested in children (≤21years old), pregnant women or women who are nursing. You should tell your doctor if you think you are pregnant or if you are nursing a child.

Talk to your doctor before resuming strenuous weight-bearing activities after treatment.

The side effects sometimes seen after Synvisc-One include (<2% each): pain, swelling, heat, redness, and/or fluid build-up in or around the knee. Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects after treatment with Synvisc-One.

 

View the Complete Prescribing Information for Synvisc-One

 

Indication

SYNVISC® (hylan G-F 20) is used to relieve knee pain due to osteoarthritis (OA). It is for patients who do not get enough relief from simple painkillers such as acetaminophen, or from exercise and physical therapy.

Important Safety Information for SYNVISC

Before trying SYNVISC, tell your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face, tongue or throat, respiratory difficulty, rash, itching or hives to SYNVISC or any hyaluronan-based products. Serious allergic reactions have been reported. Should not be used in patients with an infected knee joint, skin disease or infection around the area where the injection will be given, or circulatory problems in the legs.

SYNVISC is only for injection into the knee, performed by a doctor or other qualified health care professional. SYNVISC has not been tested to show pain relief in joints other than the knee. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to products from birds - such as feathers, eggs or poultry - or if your leg is swollen or infected.

SYNVISC has not been tested in children (≤21years old), pregnant women or women who are nursing. You should tell your doctor if you think you are pregnant or if you are nursing a child. Talk to your doctor before resuming strenuous weight-bearing activities after treatment.

The side effects sometimes seen after SYNVISC include pain, swelling, heat, redness, and/or fluid buildup in or around the knee. These reactions were generally mild and did not last long, but in rare occasions these side effects were more severe. The most commonly occurring adverse events outside of the injected knee were rash, fever, nausea, and headache.

View the Complete Prescribing Information for SYNVISC

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Important Safety Information: SYNVISC and Synvisc-One are contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to hyaluronan products or patients with infections in or around the target knee.