Can Your Joints Predict the Weather?

by Dr. Lauren Dyer L.Ac. DAC |

Can Your Joints Predict the Weather?

You know when it's coming...

The rain, the subsequent cold-front, or maybe the hot and humid might trouble you more instead. When the aches and pains begin, you thought the weather might be the culprit, but by this point the relation is clear—and it’s not adequate to blame the barometric pressure. The good news is, Chinese Medicine has accepted and tested the effect of environment on our bodies and health for centuries.

If your pain is worse with certain weather patterns, this is an important diagnostic clue. Understanding the types of weather that impact your pain is one of the many ways Traditional Chinese Medicine looks beyond your symptoms and conventional diagnosis to treat the root cause(s) to your pain.

So what can it mean when your pain flares up with windy, damp, cold, or hot weather?  From a Chinese Medicine perspective, this can point to a "Painful Obstruction (Bi) Syndrome."

Painful Obstruction Syndrome 

In Chinese Medicine there is a saying: “where there is free flow, there is no pain; where there is a lack of free flow, there is pain.” Painful Obstruction orBi Syndrome can be defined as an acute or chronic pain and stiffness in the muscly-skeletal system (which include bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles) resulting from obstructed flow (means stagnation) of Qi and blood.

With Bi Syndrome, there can be varying qualities of pain, numbness, tingling, heaviness, swelling, sensations of heat or coolness, and decreased mobility. However, a defining quality is pain that is worse with the presence of natural elements: wind, damp, cold, and heat.


The Root Causes of Bi Syndrome

Our bodies are manifestations of our external environment, and they are always coping with day-to-day and seasonal transitions. Just like how viruses, bacteria, and allergens are key culprits for externally-contracted illness conventional medicine, in Chinese Medicine, our environment, and the elements that define it, can become pathogenic as well. These elements are have great chances to “invade” and get generated internally due to:

  • Long exposure from living, working, or exercising in a particular climate
  • Acute exposure from dressing inadequately for the weather
  • Weak digestion, poor appetite, dietary influences
  • Overuse of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory (“pain-killers”), Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI), etc.
  • Genetic predisposition; lowered immune resistance
  • Overwork (physically + mentally) as well as insufficient exercise; poor ergonomics
  • Direct Injury (which creates blood stasis) or Post-Surgical Pain (results in build-up of scar tissue and/or use of metal internally)

In summary, Painful Obstruction can affect individuals who are both chronically stressed and suffer from Qi and "Blood Stagnation" as well as those with a Qi + "Blood Deficiency", each of which creates an environment for pathogens to invade and become lodged in the body.

acupuncture needles
Convention Conditions that are Related to Bi Syndrome

From a biomedical perspective, Bi Syndrome can correspond with the below (and to be sure, this list is not exhaustive:

  • Injury due to bio-mechanical strain
  • Osterarthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Degenerative Joint Disease
  • Gout
  • Scleroderma
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Rheumatoid + psoriatic arthritis

And more...

Different Types of Bi Syndrome

Chinese Medicine requires careful differential diagnosis to specify the underlying causes and pathogens causing the painful obstruction in the first place. As mentioned before, there are numerous internal and external causes that can result in Bi Syndrome, along with different lifestyle patterns based on the location and nature of the painful obstruction .What follows is a generalized pattern differentiation according to the most common Bi Syndromes due to external pathogens in Chinese Medicine.

chinese medicine

  • Wind Bi: Pain comes and goes, rapidly moving to different parts of the body; creates stiffness with limited range of motion. The location is not-fixed. Wind makes the pain worse. Because this type moves of Bi from area to area, it is also known as "Wandering Bi."
  • Cold Bi: Pain is constant, severe, tight, or sharp in nature; it is fixed in location. Cold temperatures worsen the pain, and warmth heals it. You might have an aversion to cold. Because this kind of Bi usually results in acute pain, it is also known as "Painful Bi.
  • Damp Bi: Pain is characterized as soreness, dull, achy, and throbbing. Dampness remains and sinks in nature; consequently, there might be swelling in the skin, muscles, and joints, more specifically in the knees and ankles. Pain is also followed by feeling of heaviness or numbness. The pain tends to remain fixed. Dampness worsens the condition and you usually have an aversion to rainy, humid weather because of it.
  • Heat Bi: Heat dominates when a Wind-Cold-Damp pathogen becomes entrap over time, creating a more acute kind of Qi stagnation— Qi constraint. When constraint forms it worsen and unable to “vent” or leave, it produces heat internally. Heat Bi is known by sensitive, red, swollen joints. You might have an aversion to heat since that makes the pain worse.

Bi Syndromes can result from combinations like Wind-Cold, Cold-Damp, Damp-Heat, Wind-Heat, etc. Only a Licensed Acupuncturist can properly diagnose Painful Obstruction Syndrome and distinguish which kind of Bi you have.

Acupuncture for Holistic Pain Relief

There is a great need to manage pain holistically in our healthcare system. Between the Opioid Crisis, emerging evidence on the dangers of steroid injections, and a culture where popping pills is a reflex at the first sign of discomfort, the status quo is problematic because it promotes superficial symptom support—not healing.

I am grateful to be able to share this medicine with others, because it can be a transformative experience when you allow yourself to tune into what your body is telling you through our symptoms. It is with this awareness that we can begin to address the root of the issues you are experiencing instead of settling for “quick-fixes” with potentially harmful side effects.

Whether you are considering Acupuncture as your first-choice or last-resort, at our practice we will help you navigate your health with personalized care—giving you the resources and tools tomanage your pain beyond your remedies and time working together. That is how we strive to give you a roadmap for sustainable wellness and long-term pain relief.


Dr. Lauren Dyer, DACM, L.Ac., was inspired to study Acupuncture by how Acupuncture promoted wellness instead of just combating disease, and how it took a person's lifestyle, diet, and even psychology into account while treating the underlying factors contributing to imbalance for sustainable relief. Lauren is passionate about bridging the gaps in understanding between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Bio-medical paradigms, and she incorporates current research and evidence-based approaches into her practice. You can learn more about Lauren at

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