Clinical Rheumatology

, Volume 31, Issue 8, pp 1205–1214 | Cite as

A randomized controlled trial of 8-form Tai chi improves symptoms and functional mobility in fibromyalgia patients

  • Kim D. Jones
  • Christy A. Sherman
  • Scott D. Mist
  • James W. Carson
  • Robert M. Bennett
  • Fuzhong Li
Original Article


Previous researchers have found that 10-form Tai chi yields symptomatic benefit in patients with fibromyalgia (FM). The purpose of this study was to further investigate earlier findings and add a focus on functional mobility. We conducted a parallel-group randomized controlled trial FM-modified 8-form Yang-style Tai chi program compared to an education control. Participants met in small groups twice weekly for 90 min over 12 weeks. The primary endpoint was symptom reduction and improvement in self-report physical function, as measured by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), from baseline to 12 weeks. Secondary endpoints included pain severity and interference (Brief Pain Inventory (BPI), sleep (Pittsburg sleep Inventory), self-efficacy, and functional mobility. Of the 101 randomly assigned subjects (mean age 54 years, 93 % female), those in the Tai chi condition compared with the education condition demonstrated clinically and statistically significant improvements in FIQ scores (16.5 vs. 3.1, p = 0.0002), BPI pain severity (1.2 vs. 0.4, p = 0.0008), BPI pain interference (2.1 vs. 0.6, p = 0.0000), sleep (2.0 vs. −0.03, p = 0.0003), and self-efficacy for pain control (9.2 vs. −1.5, p = 0.0001). Functional mobility variables including timed get up and go (−.9 vs. −.3, p = 0.0001), static balance (7.5 vs. −0.3, p =  0.0001), and dynamic balance (1.6 vs. 0.3, p = 0.0001) were significantly improved with Tai chi compared with education control. No adverse events were noted. Twelve weeks of Tai chi, practice twice weekly, provided worthwhile improvement in common FM symptoms including pain and physical function including mobility. Tai chi appears to be a safe and an acceptable exercise modality that may be useful as adjunctive therapy in the management of FM patients. ( Identifier, NCT01311427)


Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Functional mobility Symptom management Tai chi 



Primary Funding Source: National Institutes of Health/NIAMS 5R21 AR053506 NIH/NCCAM1K23AT006392-01. We extend our heartfelt acknowledgment to Dr. John Fisher who was unable to see his study through to fruition. Thanks also to Cheryl Weimer, Lisa Marion, Debbie Blanchard, Damini Branen, Lindsay Kindler, and Cheryl Wright for their assistance with intervention implementation and/or data collection.



Supplementary material

10067_2012_1996_MOESM1_ESM.doc (34 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 34 kb)


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Copyright information

© Clinical Rheumatology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kim D. Jones
    • 1
  • Christy A. Sherman
    • 2
  • Scott D. Mist
    • 1
  • James W. Carson
    • 1
  • Robert M. Bennett
    • 1
  • Fuzhong Li
    • 2
  1. 1.Fibromyalgia Research UnitOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Oregon Research InstituteEugeneUSA

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