Tai chi and qigong, two traditional mind and body practices from China, combine certain postures and gentile, dance-like body movements with mental focus, breathing and relaxation.  These practices may be helpful in managing some health problems, including osteoarthritis of the knee.

Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of arthritis, occurs most often in the hands, knees, hips and spine.  Several studies have evaluated the effect of Tai Chi on knee osteoarthritis.  Several studies have evaluated the effects of Tai Chi on knee OA, and, in general, they showed short-term improvements in pain, stiffness, and physical function.  Some studies also showed other desirable changes, such as improved balance or reduced depression.

Much less research has been done on Qigong, but the few studies that have been completed showed improvements in OA symptoms.

Tai Chi and Qigong are generally considered safe.  Some people with OA had side effects, however, such as temporary increases in knee pain.

More information available from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.