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Tai chi and fibromyalgia in the New England Journal of Medicine: An “alternative” frame succeeds

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“Fibromyalgia, like many chronic conditions, truly sucks,” Gorski writes, but:

… why on earth [are these findings presented as being] the least bit ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’? Stripped to its essence and particularly stripped of its woo elements about qi, all tai chi is exercise and relaxation, and we already know that exercise can be useful for fibromyalgia!

Why indeed. I am an experienced tai chi practitioner — I practiced routinely for about 20 years, and to this day it grates on my nerves to see the steady stream of self-conscious dabblers butchering it — and I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Novella: it’s ridiculous for the NEJM to present this evidence as some kind of a victory for “alternative” medicine.

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David Gorski
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Aug 25

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“A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia,” Chenchen Wang, Christopher H Schmid, Ramel Rones, Robert Kalish, Janeth Yinh, Don L Goldenberg, Yoojin Lee, and Timothy McAlindon, New England Journal of Medicine, 2010.

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