Understanding How Dehydration Causes Back Pain

Sometimes, it is easy to determine the cause of back pain. If you’ve ever fallen, done too much yard work, or sat for too long, you might have acute back pain that was easy to self-diagnose. But, there are times when back pain happens and you don’t know why.

The cause of your back pain could be dehydration. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to get rid of back pain caused by dehydration, and it is possible to avoid having this type of back pain again.

How Much Water Do You Need

In general, people understand that they need to be hydrated, but they do not know much about the symptoms of dehydration. Studies show that the general public needs to know more about what happens to the body if it becomes dehydrated.

People of all ages can suffer from back pain when dehydrated. Studies show that people who are active are often those who have problems with low back pain caused by dehydration. People between the ages of 20 and 40 are busy working, taking care of their families, and exercising. They often forget to drink enough water throughout the day, and the result can be low back pain.

It is important to understand that water is a necessary component for every part of the body. Without enough water, the body cannot function at its best. It is important to drink water throughout the day, and not just when you feel thirsty, as thirst is a sign of dehydration.

There isn’t a magic number for the total amount of water everyone should drink. The recommended amounts vary based on age, weight, and physical state. For example, pregnant or lactating women should drink more than women who aren’t pregnant or lactating. In general, studies show that adult men and women should drink between 2000 and 3000ml of water each day.

Keeping the Discs Strong

When back pain happens due to dehydration, it is because of the material in the discs between the vertebrae. These discs need water to stay spongy and strong. When the discs collapse, the nerves in the back send a pain response to the brain.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Every vertebra is separated from the next by a cushioning disc that is designed to absorb shock and help the spine move. Health care providers often describe the discs as being like jelly donuts, and when they are damaged, the jelly in the center escapes. Many people have serious pain from the nucleus pulposus (the jelly in the discs) leaking out of the discs from injuries. Fortunately, the discs will rehydrate, unless they are damaged.

But, if you are dehydrated, the nucleus pulposus will not rehydrate and the discs will collapse. Since the discs are designed to cushion the vertebrae, it becomes easy to see why the back hurts when the discs are no longer filled with cushioning material. The discs and the vertebrae work together to support the weight of the body. Without proper hydration, back pain happens as nerves in the spinal column become impinged. Pain can also happen as a result of herniated discs that swell from dehydration.

How to Avoid Dehydration Back Pain

Like many health-related habits, it is important to be mindful of how often you are drinking water. Many people will get into the habit of filling a reusable water bottle and drinking it throughout the day. Even though there is not one set standard for how much water to drink each day, try drinking four to six cups as a start.

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Photo by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

You do not want to drink too much water, you can develop something called water intoxication. Studies show that drinking too much water can lead to a problem called hyponatremia which lowers sodium levels in the blood. You’d have to drink a lot of water to get to this state, but it is still something to consider.

If you are exercising or spending a lot of time outside in the heat, you will want to drink more than you would if you were sitting around in a comfortable house. When exercising, you should drink more water, at least 17 ounces for every hour you are exercising. Pay attention to your thirst level, as being thirsty is a sign that you already are somewhat dehydrated. If you are planning on exercising, you should begin hydrating before you start moving.

Drink while you are exercising and drink when you are finished. You might want to supplement water (not replace it) with electrolytes to keep your sodium in balance. Sports drinks are a good choice, but so are beverages like coconut water or pickle juice, too.

Runner Hydrated Gopure Water Bottle

Notice the Color of Your Urine

If you are dehydrated, your urine will tell you. Urine that is dark yellow is a sign that you are dehydrated. You want to have urine that is close to clear or very pale yellow. When you are dehydrated, your kidneys will respond by darkening your urine. Studies show that urine color is one of the easiest determiners of hydration, and that the colors can change throughout the day.

Remember that if you are drinking more water throughout the day, you will probably be urinating more, too. When you begin drinking more water, you will use the bathroom more often. But, as your body starts to regulate your increased water intake, you won’t have to go as often.

Benefits of Drinking More Water

Along with ending back pain due to dehydration, you will experience other benefits of drinking more water throughout the day. Many people notice that their skin looks better and feels softer. And many notice their hair becomes thicker and fuller. People begin to feel better overall, and some people notice that they get fewer colds and other viruses when they are hydrated.

If you have been drinking more water and you still have back pain, you should see your health care provider to find out what is wrong. No one should live with the discomfort that comes from back pain.

About Dr. Wells

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of Juneau patients from different health problems using physical therapy, chiropractic care, and massage therapy designed to help give long-lasting relief .

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

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