August 2015

Knee pain, surgery, and side effects 

Statistically, more than 1/3 of you reading this are suffering from knee pain (unless you’re already a student, of course!).

Surgery to relieve knee pain may not help beyond 6 months and carries risks of adverse side effects. T'ai Chi has been shown to be effective in relieving knee pain, and it's side effects are beneficial: increased efficacy, function and quality of life, reduced low back pain, hypertension, depression, and risk of falling, improved sleep ... The list goes on.

According to the American Osteopathic Association, "knee pain is the number two cause of chronic pain; more than one-third of Americans report being affected by knee pain."

A recent New York Times article (6/22/15) reported on research from Denmark showing that surgery for knee pain may not provide benefits: beyond the six-month mark, pain-reduction benefits from surgery were gone. And, although they're not common, knee surgery brings risks of adverse side effects like deep vein thrombosis, infection, pulmonary embolism and even death.

Another study, just now coming out of Boston University, revealed that osteoarthritis patients who have total knee or total hip replacement surgery are at increased risk of heart attack in the immediate postoperative period, and that even though long-term risk of heart attack was insignificant, the risk of blood clots in the lung remained for years after surgery.

On the other hand, a study out of Tufts medical center in 2008 showed that T'ai Chi twice a week for 12 weeks was effective in relieving pain for the 65 yr old (average) test group, all of whom had severe osteoarthritis for 10 years or more. Their "side effects" included reduced depression, improved self-efficacy, and improved overall health & function, and after 48 weeks of continued T'ai Chi practice, all these improvements maintained.

If you’re managing knee pain and are interested in seeing if T’ai Chi may be of help in your particular situation, please know that I offer private T'ai Chi lessons (including via Skype) as well as morning, mid-day and evening group classes weekdays at
The Center in Tenleytown. I urge you to consider exploring the many benefits of T'ai Chi, perhaps by registering for classes. But, if my schedule doesn't fit your needs, please write: we are blessed to have many excellent teachers in the DC area, and I'd be more than happy to recommend one.