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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 379715, 14 pages
Review Article

Qigong and Fibromyalgia: Randomized Controlled Trials and Beyond

1Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University, P.O. Box 15000, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4R2
2Departments of Anesthesia, Psychiatry, and Pharmacology, Dickson Centre, QEII Health Sciences Centre, 5820 University Avenue, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 1V7

Received 17 March 2014; Accepted 25 June 2014; Published 12 November 2014

Academic Editor: Martin Offenbaecher

Copyright © 2014 Jana Sawynok and Mary Lynch. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Qigong is currently considered as meditative movement, mindful exercise, or complementary exercise and is being explored for relief of symptoms in fibromyalgia. Aim. This narrative review summarizes randomized controlled trials, as well as additional studies, of qigong published to the end of 2013 and discusses relevant methodological issues. Results. Controlled trials indicate regular qigong practice (daily, 6–8 weeks) produces improvements in core domains for fibromyalgia (pain, sleep, impact, and physical and mental function) that are maintained at 4–6 months compared to wait-list subjects or baselines. Comparisons with active controls show little difference, but compared to baseline there are significant and comparable effects in both groups. Open-label studies provide information that supports benefit but remain exploratory. An extension trial and case studies involving extended practice (daily, 6–12 months) indicate marked benefits but are limited by the number of participants. Benefit appears to be related to amount of practice. Conclusions. There is considerable potential for qigong to be a useful complementary practice for the management of fibromyalgia. However, there are unique methodological challenges, and exploration of its clinical potential will need to focus on pragmatic issues and consider a spectrum of trial designs. Mechanistic considerations need to consider both system-wide and more specific effects.