If you’ve ever heard someone say that their knees could feel the rain coming and thought they were a little less than sane, it might be time to think again. New research from the UK supports what Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors and your great-uncle Albert have been saying for years. Changes in weather can affect how our bodies feel. Read on to find out more and learn some ways to manage aches and pains this rainy season.

As the seasons change, the weather can be a real pain! From joint stiffness, to muscle aches, migraines and feeling down. Different types of pressure in the atmosphere can play a role in the pain we feel.

Studies have shown that low pressure and high pressure have been linked to painful joints and muscles. One of the largest studies to date has come out of the UK called, “Cloudy with a Chance of Pain”.

The study asked 13,000 people to track their pain daily using a smartphone. The GPS in the phone was also able to precisely track weather data at the time of pain. Their key findings concluded:

  • Relative humidity had the strongest link to more painful days
  • Low pressure and high wind speeds also linked to more pain
  • Cool days seemed to be more painful if the winds were strong
  • On damp windy days, pain was 20% more likely compared to a day with average weather

Rexall: Credit: The University of Manchester, Cloudy With a Chance of Pain (Credit: The University of Manchester, Cloudy With a Chance of Pain)

It’s thought that these same conclusions could be drawn in Canada as we experience similar weather. It’s also fairly common to know someone in Canada who blames the weather on their pain. Just ask Rexall Pharmacist, Eric Lin!

“Being in the pharmacy I definitely know it’s true and real when a patient comes up to me and asks me to address pains associated with weather. When the pressure is low our tissues become a little stiff and they contract. This can cause pain. As well, when the weather becomes cold and the temperature drops, our fluids within our joints will become thickened. Therefore it causes stiffness and results in pain.”

Lin adds that some of the most common weather related complaints at his pharmacy are for headaches, joint pain, muscle ache and weather impacting mood.

From a TCM perspective this pain is caused by Bi-Syndrome. Bi-Syndrome presents as symptoms of joint pain caused by the external pathogens of Wind, Cold (or Heat) and Dampness invading the body, and lodging in the joints. To help manage weather related pain there are several approaches your TCM doctor may recommend.

Herbal formulas are an important aspect of TCM, the herb Gui Zhi is commonly used to treat Bi-Syndrome. This herb is particularly effective because of its ability to Release Exterior Wind, as well as for its warming action on the joints. Gui Zhi is most effectively combined with several other herbs inside a formula created specifically for each individual presentation, as determined by a trained TCM practitioner.

Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated can also help to prevent pain. Depending on the Pattern causing the Bi-Syndrome, it may be helpful for you to add some warming foods to your diet. To find out which foods would be best for your condition and Pattern speak with your TCM practitioner. Other methods of pain management can include hydro or heat therapy as this can increase blood flow to the affected area. Plus it can feel comforting on a cool day.

Living in Canada certainly forces us all to face Mother Nature on her worst days! Remember, with the right steps any season can be comfortable if you take the right precautions to live with less pain.

To learn more about Bi-Syndrome and weather related pain or to book an appointment with Dr. Peter Wood, Dr. TCM, R.Ac. email us at info@evolvevancouver.ca