We would have done better listening to Grandma’s weather predictions than the local meteorologists forecast.  Do you remember your grandmother, or other older relative who may have suffered with spinal stenosis, say that her chronic back pain was flaring up because the rain was coming?

Believe it or not these were neither the ramblings of a delirious person in pain nor supernatural projections, but rather conceivably accurate forecasts originating from sound science.   According to medical experts, people with arthritis and chronic joint pain will experience more symptoms with barometric weather changes.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, spinal stenosis is most commonly due to arthritis, and tends to develop in people 60 years of age and older.  As the adult body experiences natural aging changes, the spinal discs lose their cushioning moisture, placing more pressure on bones and joints. This can lead to bone growth, narrowing the spaces through which nerves can pass, in turn causing nerve inflammation and pain.

So how does barometric change, which precedes nasty weather, affect the inner workings of a body afflicted with a chronic pain condition like spinal stenosis?  According to an article featured on WebMD, atmospheric pressure keeps tissues, which surround already-inflamed joints, from swelling.

Before it rains, barometric pressure falls, and these tissues expand.  When they press against (already) sensitive nerves, chronic back pain is triggered.   According to a rheumatology expert interviewed in the article about this pain phenomenon, “It’s not metaphysical; it’s actually physical.  It’s the same kind of thing that you have with people who go up in a plane or (astronauts).”  He goes on to mention ankle swelling that many of us get during air travel, as an example of this phenomenon.

It’s up to you whether you want to rely on your flaring chronic back pain to decide whether to grab an umbrella as you head out the door.  However, if you struggle with symptoms of spinal stenosis, and ever wondered whether your pre-rainstorm pain was a coincidence, you now have a possible explanation for what is happening.  This information, along with the realization that these showers will usher in May’s flowers, should be a little uplifting.



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