Spring is the season of the liver and gallbladder in East Asian medicine, and since these organ systems are considered in charge of the tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue of the body, we often see connective tissue related pain increase in the spring. These organs are also related to every joint in the body.
Common areas that can start to act out in the spring also include areas where the fascia is injured. Individuals can see a new flare -up of pre-existing joint, tendon, ligament, and connective tissue pain in mid-March through April. Other areas of pain that typical act up are any joint, neck and nape pain, anywhere where the fascia has been injured or contains adhesions.
Why does this happen?
Part of it has to do with our body emulating the ebb and flow of energy in the world around us. The liver and gallbladder organs are considered the wood organs. If you look at plantlife this time of year, much of our plants are working very hard to overcome the cold-hardened soils of winter, to push their way up out of the ground, or for trees and shrubs to put on fresh leaves, buds, and flowers for the spring summer. This energy has a strong, rising quality. In our bodies, the wood organs are responsible for free and easy circulation of blood, qi, and body fluids to every part of our body. The tissue structures of the connective tissue have less blood supply than other tissues. This tends to make them vulnerable to hiccups in blood circulation in general.
It can also be a sign of what we call blood deficiency in the wood organs. If the wood organs have blood deficiency, it will show up most prominently in the spring, during their season. Blood deficiency means a lack of umph and vitality in the blood, more severe blood deficiencies will show up as anemia on lab work. Blood deficiency in East Asian medicine often impacts the connective tissue first. It can lead to neck and nape tension, when the fascia of the neck, nape, and upper back are not receiving adequate perfusion of blood to keep the facia supple and flexible. It can also directly lead to joint pain due to a lack of blood perfusion to the tendons and ligaments of joints. Think of the connective tissue like a woody stemmed plant. If the plant is well hydrated, it can bend easily in the wind and not break. If it is dried out, the branches become brittle and easily snap in the wind.
Staying hydrated by drinking enough water and electrolytes will help make sure the liquid portion of your blood is on par for the course this spring. For a natural electrolyte beverage recipe, click here.
Utilize East Asian medicine food therapy techniques to support the liver, gallbladder, and the blood. To learn more about food therapy techniques check out the Spring Video of our educational video series at: https://www.thompsonacupuncture.org/chinese-nutrition/
Minimize stress in your life with breathing techniques and mindfulness breath practices. Stress impacts the liver more than every other organ system, and finding practices that you can employ at home to reduce stress are invaluable. For more information click here.
Use acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, and East Asian herbal medicine. The combination of acupuncture and herbs can help regulate your liver/gallbladder organs. Certain points can help benefit different joints, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissue, as well as improve the blood. Herbal treatment can guide blood to specific parts of the body to heal the tissues their, as well as help to improve the vitality of the blood, or build more blood if you are already anemic. Your practitioner can help guide you as to the best treatment plan for your specific pattern of tendon, ligament, and/or joint pain.
Cupping and gua sha can help remove and repair adhesions in the fascia, as well as improve blood circulation into tight muscles.
Mahalo for these timely articles!