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fMRI for Knee OA

Title Neurobiological Mechanisms of Mind-body Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis
Therapeutic Area Arthritis, Osteoarthritis
Principal Investigator Chenchen Wang, MD, Msc
Min Age 50 Years
Gender Any
Contact Neena Patel


This study aims to provide crucial knowledge about the neurobiological mechanisms underlying mind-body therapy for knee osteoarthritis (OA). We will investigate the central mechanism of knee OA pain using brain imaging technology to evaluate how brain function and structure change in response to mind-body exercise over time.

Participants will be randomized to either a Tai Chi or Wellness Education class and asked to come to Tufts Medical Center twice a week for 12 weeks, along with a baseline and follow-up visit (26 study visits). The findings will lead to the establishment of a new treatment paradigm in OA and have broad application to the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Study Details

Inclusion Criteria

  • Fulfills American College of Rheumatology Criteria for symptomatic knee OA; willing to undergo MRI at baseline and follow-up;
  • pain score >= 40 (visual analog version) on at least 1 of 5 questions (range 0 to 100 each)

Exclusion Criteria

  • Serious medical conditions limiting ability of patient to participate in the study;
  • has had an intra-articular steroid injection or reconstructive surgery in the prior 3 months on the affected knee, or has had any intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections in the previous 6 months;
  • presence of any contraindications to fMRI scanning (including but not limited to: cardiac pacemaker, metal implants, fear of closed spaces, pregnancy, weight > 300 lbs.)

Study Requirements

The participants will come in for a baseline visit, which includes a screening, evaluation, x-ray, and study physician appointment. They will then be escorted to MGH for a baseline fMRI. Each participant will complete a 3 month intervention. All sessions are 60 minutes long and all participants will be required to practice at home. After the intervention is completed, participants will complete a followup assessment, including a followup fMRI at MGH.