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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

A randomized controlled trial of qigong for fibromyalgia

Mary Lynch1, Jana Sawynok2*, Chok Hiew3 and Dana Marcon4

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Anesthesiology, Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Dalhousie University, QEII Health Sciences Centre, 4th floor, Dickson Centre, 5820 University Avenue, Halifax, NS B3H 1V7, Canada

2 Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada

3 330 Woodbridge Street, Fredericton, NB, Canada

4 6178 Quinpool Road, Halifax, NS, Canada

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:R178  doi:10.1186/ar3931

Published: 3 August 2012



Fibromyalgia is difficult to treat and requires the use of multiple approaches. This study is a randomized controlled trial of qigong compared with a wait-list control group in fibromyalgia.


One hundred participants were randomly assigned to immediate or delayed practice groups, with the delayed group receiving training at the end of the control period. Qigong training (level 1 Chaoyi Fanhuan Qigong, CFQ), given over three half-days, was followed by weekly review/practice sessions for eight weeks; participants were also asked to practice at home for 45 to 60 minutes per day for this interval. Outcomes were pain, impact, sleep, physical function and mental function, and these were recorded at baseline, eight weeks, four months and six months. Immediate and delayed practice groups were analyzed individually compared to the control group, and as a combination group.


In both the immediate and delayed treatment groups, CFQ demonstrated significant improvements in pain, impact, sleep, physical function and mental function when compared to the wait-list/usual care control group at eight weeks, with benefits extending beyond this time. Analysis of combined data indicated significant changes for all measures at all times for six months, with only one exception. Post-hoc analysis based on self-reported practice times indicated greater benefit with the per protocol group compared to minimal practice.


This study demonstrates that CFQ, a particular form of qigong, provides long-term benefits in several core domains in fibromyalgia. CFQ may be a useful adjuvant self-care treatment for fibromyalgia.

Trial registration NCT00938834.