A traditional Chinese meditative exercise significantly reduces pain in as little as 8 weeks in patients with fibromyalgia, according to a new study by Canadian researchers. The routine practice of qigong also showed sustained benefits in sleep, fatigue, anxiety, physical function and overall well-being.
Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia enrolled 100 patients with long term fibromyalgia in a six month study. The patients had tried a variety of methods to control their pain and other symptoms, including medication, acupuncture, chiropractic and massage. Almost all of the participants were women, with an average age of 52.
The patients were taught Chaoyi Fanhuan Qigong (CFQ), a type of qigong that uses choreographed movements designed to release “qi,” or energy, throughout the body. The patients were given hour-long practice sessions of CFQ once a week for 2 months, and then were asked to perform the exercises at home for up to 60 minutes each day for 6 months.
“Findings reported in this study indicate that self-practice of CFQ, a particular form of qigong, leads to long-term beneficial effects in fibromyalgia in several domains and may be a useful adjunct in the management of fibromyalgia. Further study of the potential health benefits of this modality is warranted,” wrote lead author Jana Sawynok, PhD, of Dalhousie University. The study is published online in Arthritis Research & Therapy.
Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder characterized by chronic pain, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and mood swings. Approved medications include pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and milnacipran (Savella), but their effectiveness is limited.
Two smaller studies of qigong and tai chi for fibromyalgia also showed significant effects on pain, as well as physical and psychological health.