As the weather turns colder, many people feel not only the chill in the air, but can also suffer from increased joint and arthritis pain. For many years, this correlation was often noted by patients and pain sufferers – think of anyone you know with a bad back or bad knees and how they can often “feel” wet, damp or cold weather coming – but not backed by formal studies.
Then, in 2003, a Japanese study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology found that there was a direct connection between low pressure, low temperatures and joint pain in rats. It was the first documented animal behavioral study of weather effects on joint pain. More recently, in 2008, Johns Hopkins conducted studies on whether climate really does affect arthritis pain. In one of the studies, 151 people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia (a rheumatic disorder that causes joint pain) as well as 32 people without arthritis were evaluated for one year. All of the study participants lived in a warm climate and kept a journal for one year recording their pain. Researchers matched these journals up with weather conditions and found that patients in all three experienced more pain on days when the temperature was low, while people in the control group were unaffected by any of the weather conditions.
So, that aching feeling in your joints and your back this time of year is not only in your head. But, how can we use Chinese Medicine, acupuncture and herbs to help effectively treat it and the underlying cause for your pain?
In my practice in Philadelphia, I see many patients with chronic pain, joint pain and arthritis. It’s actually a specialization of mine and I’ve spent hundreds of hours training with acupuncture and Chinese Medicine experts to learn how to most effectively treat patients and relieve this pain over the long-term.
In Chinese medicine, this type of musculoskeletal and/or joint pain is referred to as bi syndrome. “Bi,” in Oriental Medical terminology means obstruction – the symptomatic nature of the obstruction may exhibit qualities that cause you to feel achy or experience stabbing, fixed, or hot pain. Some people respond positively to movement or exercise while other patients feel better with rest. Most musculoskeletal and joint disorders are grouped into one of the several subcategories of bi syndrome. Accurate diagnosis of the type of bi a patient is experiencing ensures sound selection of an acupuncture and herbal protocol to relieve and “break” the obstruction of qi and blood in the affected area.
So, don’t dread this colder season, but instead enjoy the crisp weather, move freely and without pain and feel better doing it.