Qigong and exercise therapy for elderly patients with chronic neck pain (QIBANE): a randomized controlled study

J Pain. 2009 May;10(5):501-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2008.11.004. Epub 2009 Feb 23.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of qigong compared with exercise therapy and no treatment. Elderly patients with chronic neck pain (>6 months) were randomly assigned to qigong or exercise therapy (each 24 sessions over a period of 3 months) or to a waiting list control. Patients completed standardized questionnaires at baseline and after 3 and 6 months. The main outcome measure was average neck pain on the visual analogue scale after 3 months. Secondary outcomes were neck pain and disability (NPAD) and quality of life (SF-36). One hundred seventeen patients (age, 76 +/- 8 years, 95% women) were included in the intention-to-treat analysis. The average duration of neck pain was 19.0 +/- 14.9 years. After 3 months, no significant differences were observed between the qigong group and the waiting list control group (visual analogue scale mean difference, -11 mm [CI, -24.0; 2.1], P = .099) or between the qigong group and the exercise therapy group (-2.5 mm [ - 15.4; 10.3], P = .699). Results for the NPAD were similar (qigong vs waiting list -6.7 (-15.4; 2.1), P = .135; qigong vs exercise therapy 2.3 (-6.2; 10.8); P = .600). We found no significant effect after 3 months of qigong or exercise therapy compared with no treatment. Further studies should include outcomes more suitable to elderly patients, longer treatment, and patients with less chronic pain.

Perspective: In a randomized controlled study, we evaluated whether a treatment of 24 qigong sessions over a period of 3 months is (1) superior to no treatment and (2) superior to the same amount of exercise therapy in elderly patients (age, 76 +/- 8 years, 95% women) with long-term chronic neck pain (19.0 +/- 14.9 years). After 3 and 6 months, we found no significant differences for pain, neck pain, disability, and quality of life among the 3 groups.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breathing Exercises* / adverse effects
  • Chronic Disease
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Exercise Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Pain / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome