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Season 4 Episode 52

S4E52: with Arlene Faulk - Walking on Pins and Needles - Managing Chronic Pain with Tai Chi


Arlene Faulk has had a passion for writing from a young age beginning in the 8th grade when she wrote and published her class newsletter, The Tattler. She earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Iowa, reporting on everything from Led Zeppelin concerts to protests of the Vietnam War. She went on to receive an MA in Speech Communication from the University of Kansas.  

At 22 years old, Arlene lost all feeling below her waist. She regained mobility, but it was years before she received an accurate diagnosis of MS. Arlene endured years of undiagnosed chronic pain, concealing her debilitating symptoms while climbing the corporate ladder, where she managed human resource departments in a major airline until her body stopped her. 

In her illuminating journey of determination and self-discovery, she explores how practicing Tai Chi and modifying her lifestyle and mindset helped her retake control and move her life in the direction of possibility. She has been teaching Tai Chi for over 20 years in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois. 

Click here to view the episode transcript



  • Welcome to the program, Arlene, and thanks so much for joining us on Living Well with MS.  

  • Congratulations on the recent release of your book, ‘Walking on Pins and Needles’. It’s all about how you discovered how Tai Chi can help people, yourself included, manage chronic pain. We’ll get more into that shortly. But before we do, let’s dive a little bit into your background… 

  • You were diagnosed with MS in your early 20s, which spiralled into a series of debilitating symptoms and pain. Can you tell us about those initial experiences coping with your new reality? 

  • Despite all of this, you still went on to build a successful career in the corporate world, until your condition forced you to stop. How did you deal with all of this while working in high-pressure jobs? 

  • When did you discover Tai Chi? And perhaps for our listeners who aren’t familiar with it, can you describe what Tai Chi is in layman’s terms? 

  • How did the practice of Tai Chi help you deal with some of your chronic symptoms? 

  • Tai Chi seems to be yet another way to practice mindfulness, which is core to the OMS program. Can you speak about its impact on reducing stress in the body and mind? 

  • There’s something about our mindsets that compels us to try to control as much as we can, and at the same time letting go seems to be a healthier path. How do you use Tai Chi to make that lane change? 

  • When did you transition to teaching Tai Chi, and how did you develop your approach to using it as a tool for managing chronic pain? 

  • What sorts of people do you teach? Is your approach effective for a range of conditions, including MS? 

  • You’ve done on to write a book about this, and incidentally, more information about the book and where to purchase it is available in this episode’s show notes. How did the book come about? 

  • I know this is a bit of an unfair question, but I will ask it anyway… if you can distil your experience with Tai Chi into one core lesson learned that you’d like to impart to our global community of people with MS and their supporters, what would that be? 

  • Thanks so much for being our guest on Living Well with MS, Arlene. We are thrilled to learn about the amazing work you’re doing to help ease chronic pain through a Tai Chi practice. And I encourage everyone to learn more about it by checking out your book, and you can find all those links and more in our show notes for this episode. Thanks again, Arlene. 


Coming up next: 

Tune in starting June 6 for the 32nd instalment of Living Well with MS Coffee Break, and get to know Regina Beach, an American member of the OMS community living in the UK who serves as Overcoming MS’s Trusts and Community Fundraising Manager. 

Don’t miss out: 

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