We all know that drinking water is important, not only for our own health and survival but for every living thing. Everything from your organs to your muscle to your spine is impacted by how much water you consume. When you don’t get enough, these systems can’t perform at their highest level of function, leading to serious consequences, including back pain. With over 75% of Americans living in a chronic state of dehydration, it’s not surprising that so many people are in need of back pain treatment. To stay healthy and pain-free, it’s important to understand how hydration affects your body and how to avoid the impacts of dehydration.
Dehydration and Your Spine
Between each bone, or vertebra, in your spine sits a small disc filled with a gelatinous material. When the body does not have enough water, these discs lose water and become unable to hold the weight of your body. This can lead to the discs collapsing, putting pressure on the sensitive nerves in your spinal column.
These discs are primarily meant to separate the interlocking bones of the spine, providing cushioning and mobility by absorbing shock. The shape of these discs is similar to a jelly doughnut, with a strong outer ring of fiber and a softer, gel-like center. This is called the nucleus pulposus and is made up primarily of water. This water can gradually leak out throughout the day as your spine experiences natural wear and tear, but gravity pulls more water down your spine, rehydrating the discs as you move.
But for a person who is not getting enough water, the discs have nothing to rehydrate with. Without this water, the pressure of your spine is now on the outer ring of the disc, which isn’t meant to hold the weight. When these discs collapse, even minimally, it puts pressure on nerves that send pain signals throughout the body.
In other cases, dehydration of the discs can lead to swelling when enough pressure is exerted. This can cause a herniated disc, in which the entire structure is moved out of place and takes up room in the surrounding cavity, again placing pressure on the nerves and causing pain.
Preventing Back Pain from Dehydration
The good news about this is that the back pain treatment in these cases is extremely simple and non-invasive. Simply staying more hydrated can alleviate pain and prevent serious conditions from arising in the future. If you are experiencing back pain, beginning with ensuring you are hydrated can help you rule out these issues and determine if further evaluation is needed. Some ways to increase your hydration are below.
Drink More Water
There is no exact amount of water that every person should drink daily. A good rule is about 4 to 6 cups per day for a healthy person. However, your behavior can impact this number. For example, if you spend time outside on a hot day, you may find you sweat and lose water more quickly, meaning you should add more water to your day.
It is also especially important to drink water while working out. It’s believed that a person can and should drink as much as 50 ounces of water per hour of exercise. Most people don’t drink enough to replace the water they lose exercising because they only drink water during and after exercise, when they begin to feel thirsty as a result of dehydration. Begin drinking water a few hours before your workout, during the exercise, and after.
If you are exercising for more than an hour, a sports drink that contains electrolytes can also be helpful. Be careful to choose one that does not contain a high amount of sugar, as this can cause cramps and stomach pain. Something with more natural ingredients and less sugar will avoid these problems while boosting hydration.
Keep an Eye on Your Urine
A great indicator of your body’s hydration level is the color of your urine. A dark yellow or amber-colored urine can indicate there is less water and more waste and is a sign you should drink more water. A hydrated person’s urine will usually be a very pale yellow.
If you are staying well hydrated and find you still experience back pain, visit AICA Atlanta to work with specialists who can help you determine the root cause of your pain. We strive to treat patients holistically, encouraging healthy behavior like staying hydrated while providing customized back pain treatment. Contact us today to help your body function optimally and reduce back pain!