A study at Dalhousie University is looking at the effect practising a traditional Chinese meditative practice has on fibromyalgia sufferers.

“Our patients are learning how to do qigong and then we’re asking them to practice qigong for 45 minutes to 60 minutes a day,” says Dr. Mary Lynch, the director of research at the Pain Management Clinic at Dalhousie. “And we’re going to measure their pain and how they manage with their fibromyalgia.”

Qigong (pronounced chi-gong) involves using body movements and controlled breathing techniques.

“(Fibromyalgia) causes a tremendous amount of suffering and there are really no good treatments for fibromyalgia right now,” says Lynch.

“We’re always looking for new treatments that patients can do themselves that are not harmful,” she says.

The pilot trial at Dalhousie was in 2007 and the results have since been published. Twelve of the 25 patients who continued practising qigong for six months after the trial had positive results.

“Their pain almost came down, their fibromyalgia impact questionnaire measures improved, and their physical health related quality of life improved,” says Lynch.

Wanting to study it in more detail, the clinic has one trial on now and is looking to recruit another 100 people for a trial in the spring.

Another pain study at the university is looking at the impact art and creative pursuits have on chronic pain. Lynch hopes to have the results published by late summer 2010.

“The data has not been analyzed,” says Lynch, “but I can tell you that my clinical impression, just from what my patients who are artists tell me, is that art and pain can interact in two ways.”

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