Tai chi movements, other therapies can improve perceptions of pain
Friday, 18 November 2011
National awareness around pain disorders such as fibromyalgia is increasing. Fortunately, a growing body of literature suggests that non-pharmaceutical approaches such as tai chi movements can improve patients' perception of pain, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Researchers from Stanford University's Neuroscience and Pain Lab used radiological scans to demonstrate how different parts of the brain react to distractions from, or emotional reevaluations of, pain – both of which can alleviate these sensations.
"There is a growing recognition that drugs are only part of the solution and that people who live with chronic pain have to develop a strategy that calls upon some inner resources," said Josephine Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), as quoted by the news source.
Pain is a very individual experience that can be influenced by feelings of anxiety, depression and other emotions.
Different therapies that have generated scientific interest include guided imagery meditation, acupuncture and the energy healing techniques of tai chi. Collectively, these practices can provide distractions from pain or boost one's mood and mental status.
According to NCCAM, people who practice tai chi report experiencing improvements in strength, flexibility and balance, as well as relief from conditions such as arthritis. In 2007, more than 2.3 million adults in the U.S. reported practicing tai chi within the prior year.