Cold Weather and Joint Pain: How Acupuncture Can Help
Do your joints begin to ache when the temperature drops? Increased aches and pains are common as the weather changes during the winter months. Luckily, you won't have to wait until spring to get your pain under control if you visit an acupuncturist. Acupuncture, an ancient medical practice that originated in China, offers a safe, effective way to manage joint pain in any season.
How Cold Weather Affects Your Joints
You may notice that your pain worsens or improves as the barometric pressure increases or decreases. Barometric pressure measures weight in the air. When there's a cold front in the forecast, rain, or a snowstorm on the way, barometric pressure drops. This drop in pressure causes the tissues around your joints, including tendons, muscles, and scar tissue, to expand and press painfully against your nerves. Unfortunately, a sudden increase in barometric pressure could also worsen joint pain.
Although anyone can develop achy joints when the weather changes, you may more likely to experience joint pain if you have arthritis. The disease damages your joints, causing inflammation, pain, swelling, and stiffness. Pressure changes may only worsen these problems.
If your joints feel stiffer than usual, a drop in the temperature could be to blame, according to WebMD. When it's cold outside, the fluid that lubricates your joints thickens, triggering pain and stiffness.
Humidity, the amount of water vapor in the air, also affects arthritis symptoms during the winter. A European study published in the Journal of Rheumatology noted that research subjects reported more pain during cold, humid days. Of course, your activity level also affects joint pain. Moving helps your joints remain flexible and may even ease the pain. If you become a couch potato during the winter, you're bound to notice more stiffness and pain.
Acupuncture Treatment Relieves Joint Pain
Pain medication can be very helpful in reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling, but every medication has dangers and side effects. If you take too much acetaminophen, you could suffer nausea or even liver damage. Relying on ibuprofen day after day to reduce your pain could increase your risk of ulcers, kidney damage, and liver failure. Opioids and other prescription medications used to treat severe pain can be addicting. After taking these medications for a while, you may develop a tolerance and need to increase your dose. Unfortunately, upping your dose can raise your risk of an overdose.
Acupuncture offers a much safer way to treat your winter joint pain. The treatment offers these benefits:
- Increased Circulation. Acupuncture improves blood flow to your joints and the tissues that surround them. Blood provides oxygen and nutrients that help keep ligaments and cartilage healthy. Ligaments connect two bones together in a joint, while cartilage cushions the ends of the bones in the joint.
- Reduces Inflammation. Acupuncture treatment reduces inflammation around your joints, which decreases stiffness and pain. The treatment targets nerve pathways that control inflammation and may turn off pathways that increase inflammation.
- Natural Pain Relief. Inserting hair-thin acupuncture needles into your skin prompts your body to produce endorphins. These hormones reduce pain and improve your sense of well-being. Unlike pain medication, endorphins don't cause any side effects.
- Better Range of Motion. Reducing inflammation also makes moving easier. After acupuncture therapy, you may notice an improvement in your flexibility and range of motion.
In addition to acupuncture treatments, your acupuncturist may recommend herbal medications or supplements that will help you manage your joint pain and may provide exercise and diet suggestions.
Do you have winter joint pain? Acupuncture therapy can help keep you comfortable when the cold winds start to blow. Contact us to schedule your acupuncture session.