Baduanjin alleviates the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Mar;14(2):167-74. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0600.


Objectives: To assess the feasibility and safety of using the health-promoting traditional Chinese exercise, known as Baduanjin, in treating knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Subjects: Twenty-eight (28) female patients who met the American College of Rheumatology criteria for osteoarthritis of the knee signed the informed consent and were randomized into the Baduanjin group (n=14) and the control group (n=14). Eleven (11) patients in the Baduanjin group and 10 patients in the control group completed the trial.

Intervention: The Baduanjin group patients exercised following taped commands in the community entertainment room during 30-minute classes five times a week for 8 weeks, whereas the control group received no treatment.

Outcome measures: Indicators that include knee pain, stiffness, physical disability, general health, quadriceps strength, and aerobic ability were measured using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC), the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36), the 6-Minute Walk Test (6-MWT), and the Isokinetic Strength of the Knee Extensors (ISKE).

Results: Compared with the control group, the participants in the Baduanjin group had statistically significant improvements in percentage changes of the WOMAC pain subscale (-61.8+/-35.7% versus 44.6+/-102.8%; p=0.006), the WOMAC stiffness subscale (-53.4+/-46.1% versus 135.8+/-386.7%; p=0.029), the WOMAC physical function subscale (-7.4+/-81.9% versus 140.5+/-151.9%; p=0.024), 6-MWT (11.9+/-7.5% versus 1.6+/-13.0%; p=0.036), and Peak Torque of the ISKE (15.1+/-33.7% versus -16.1+/-16.6%; p=0.016). The SF-36's General Health, Social Function, and Mental Health subscales had no significant changes between those in the Baduanjin and control groups. As such, no adverse events from treatment were reported.

Conclusions: This study suggested that the Baduanjin exercise provided a safe and feasible treatment option for patients with knee OA, as well as offered reductions in pain, stiffness, and disability, which helped improve the patients' quadriceps strength and aerobic ability.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / complications
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / rehabilitation*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Women's Health