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

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

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Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany.


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.


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.

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