Is Your Back Pain Caused by Dehydration?

glass of water

Our bodies consist, to a very great degree, of water.  It’s the life force.

And we all know that hydrating ourselves with enough water every day is crucial.  We know we need water.  Most of us know that we can’t live very long if we don’t drink it.  That’s because it’s so essential to our existence.

But if you’re not drinking enough water, you probably don’t know how important it is to your spine.

Disc Dehydration

When your intervertebral discs become dehydrated, they shrink.  This is dangerous because there’s less space between your vertebrae and when there’s less space, there’s more potential for dysfunction.

The spinal discs are filled with a gel-like substance which relies on your water consumption to regenerate.  And when you’re not well-hydrated, that can’t happen.

While You Were Sleeping

A lot goes on in our bodies while we sleep.  We dream to resolve the day’s events and our bodies regenerate themselves to face another day.

That regeneration also occurs in your spinal discs.  During the day, we tend to shrink by up to a ½ inch.  But when we wake up each day, that lost height is restored.

That’s because your discs have been busy rehydrating themselves in the night.

Amazing, right?  A miracle!  But without you, that miracle can’t happen.

Your spinal discs rely on adequate water intake during the day to get their bounce back, so they can continue serving your spine by acting as shock absorbers, keeping your vertebral bones apart.

That gel-like substance inside your discs bears 75% of the load, while the tough outer coating (anulus), bears 25%.  And when there’s not enough water to restore your discs to their normal buoyancy, you’re courting the failure of the structure.

The anulus relies on the disc to bear most of the weight and when it can’t do that, you’re risking pain, stiffness and even a herniation.  That tough outer coating isn’t tough enough to do its job and the nucleus’s, too.

Exercise and Movement

Exercise and movement increase the ability of your discs to absorb water available in the body.  As your spine moves, this process is enhanced.

And if you exercise, hydration is even more important.  When you sweat, that’s water your discs could be benefiting from, so replacing it by drinking water before, during and after exercise is essential.

Waiting to drink water until you’re thirsty means your body is already dehydrated.  Water intake is something you should be thinking about before you get to that point.

How Much?

The 8-glass rule is well known.  To be perfectly clear, though, much depends on your weight, activity level and the climate you live in.  For example, the hotter the climate, the more you’ll sweat and the more you’ll need to replace water.

As a general guideline, drink a cup of water for every 20 pounds of weight.  Keep water with you, wherever you go, and you’ll gradually train yourself to make water a priority.

Back & Body

Got back pain?  Get multi-disciplinarian support at our Manhattan clinic.

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