Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain LIFE Spring 2015, Issue 11 - Page 17

Self-Management Tools combined, they show significant improvement in pain. Additionally, they reported improvements in confidence, overall symptoms, and ability to cope. It appears that choosing a practice that involves the mindfulness component is important. W hat is qigong? Qigong--also spelled chi kung or chi gung–is a third type of mindfulness meditation. As with the previous practices, there are a number of different styles. While the names of different types tell you what school of qigong they are teaching, it will tell you very little about what the actual practice looks like. Often they have names such as Wild Goose, Soaring Crane, Jade Woman, and Turtle Longevity; these practices are generally founded in Taoist philosophies. B enefits of qigong. The effects of qigong (Mist, Firestone, & Jones, 2013) have be en more variable than either tai chi or yoga but overall have had a positive effect on pain. The variability may be due to the statistical issues with the study design caused by small numbers of participants. Many patients with fibromyalgia showed improvement. There was also a study of aerobics for children that used qigong as a comparator (Stephens, Feldman, Bradley, & et al, 2008). The study showed no difference between the two groups but had significant improvement within the group indicating that it is a promising area of future research and something that one may consider as an adjunctive treatment. W hat to look for in a class. There are similar issues when looking for a class–whether it is tai chi, yoga or qigong. First, there is the issue of availability. Qigong is often only available in communities with an Asian population. However, there are many classes that could be done over a weekend or a weeklong class where you would learn how to practice and would not need the group practice. There are benefits to doing these exercise programs in groups. If you develop a relationship with the teacher or the other students in the class, it is more likely that you will have better adherence. Yoga and to a lesser amount tai chi are more readily available. Again, it is best to practice in a group setting as there are added benefits by building a social network. Additionally, you should inform your instructor that you have a chronic pain condition and ask how to modify the practices. While this is important for all modalities, it is particularly important for those who are interested in yoga. All three can be practiced by those with fibromyalgia and have good retention and pain benefits. For those who can’t find a class due to time commitments or availability might consider learning via DVD. The Fibromyalgia Information Foundation has a DVD which has a yoga and pilates video developed by practitioners specifically for patients with fibromyalgia. This was developed by researchers who have tested the protocol and found it safe and effective. However, it is highly recommended that you attend a class if possible. S pring 201 5 In a study we conducted, one of the major barriers to starting yoga –and presumably the same goes for tai chi and qigong– was concern over worsening of symptoms. However, in the same survey, we found that most who started yoga have kept with it and feel that it is an important tool in managing their symptoms. Further, the literature on all three show that there is very little in the way of adverse reactions to starting a mindfulness based exercise program such as these three. Many have initial soreness that is quickly replaced by greater confidence and pain reductions. Due to the safety and the possible benefits, I would recommend seeing if it is a useful adjunctive treatment in your regimen. Scott D. Mist, Ph.D., M.AC.O.M., M.S., M.A., assistant professor in the School of Nursing and School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University is the principal investigator for whole systems Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of fibromyalgia funded by NCCAM. Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Life  17