After spending a lot of time researching hydration, I’m beginning to understand the positive impacts of setting and achieving daily hydration goals. That being said, a lack of hydration (or being dehydrated) can cause a number of side effects that many people aren’t aware of. These could be fixed by drinking a bit more water each day. In this article, I’ll look at the relationship between hydration and back pain, and more specifically can dehydration cause back pain?
Can Dehydration Cause Back Pain? (or Lower Back Pain?)
Yes, your back pain can be caused from dehydration.
The spinal discs that sit between your vertebrae work as shock absorbers. Spinal discs consist of an inner and outer ring. The inner ring is composed primarily of water which helps to absorb torsion and compression forces.
As you go about your day, your spinal discs begin to naturally lose water due to the effect that gravity has on your body. As the discs lose water and become dehydrated, they no longer provide the same support to your spine.
This can lead to discomfort and pain in your back and more specifically, lower back pain. This is because the forces acting on your spine are no longer absorbed by the water-filled inner ring.
As a result, forces are supported more by the tough outer ring, which isn’t as absorbing and cushioning as the inner ring.
Your spinal discs can stay hydrated throughout the day as long as you are drinking an adequate amount of water. However, each night your body works to rehydrate the spinal disks as you are lying down while sleeping.
This is why each morning most people wake up a bit taller than when they go to sleep.
When the inner rings dehydrate throughout the day, they compress, resulting in your spine being a tiny bit shorter at the end of the day (around ¼” up to ½” shorter). Throughout the night as the spinal discs rehydrate and refill with water, they expand back to normal size.
Back Pain Relieved By Drinking Water
As discussed above, the amount of water in your body can have a strong relation to the back pain you are experiencing. If you are staying adequately hydrated throughout the day, your spinal disks will remain filled with water.
When filled with water, your spinal disks are more absorbing and cushioning to forces acting on your back. This is especially important during high impact activities (working out, playing sports, physical labor jobs, etc.) because your spine is experiencing greater forces acting on it.
The best way to relieve or prevent this type of back pain is to stay hydrated. If you are experiencing back pain, start by drinking a glass or two of water in about an hour-long period of time.
After drinking water, you should start feeling the pain eliminate pretty quickly if it is directly related to dehydration.
Set hydration goals (we give some tips below), and make an effort to achieve them each day. If the pain in your back hasn’t decreased after a week of proper hydration, consider making an appointment with your healthcare professional.
Tips For Staying Hydrated To Prevent Back Pain
You should be adequately hydrating each day not just to prevent back pain, but so all your bodily functions are performing as intended.
Experts from all around the world have different opinions about how much water is required for you to stay hydrated. However, the number will differ for each individual depending on gender, weight, diet, sleep, amount of exercise, etc. the list goes on.
Determining how much water you are required to drink is a bit of an experiment depending on your daily activities. However, a good starting point is to consistently be sipping water throughout your day.
Common symptoms from mild dehydration can include being thirsty, having a headache, a dry mouth, not peeing often, more yellow pee, back pain, and dizziness. If you can relate to some of these symptoms, try increasing your water content each day.
Keep in mind that fluid loss from your body is increased when you are exposed to hot weather, when you are sick, and when you are exercising. Below we’ll give some tips on how to stay hydrated to prevent back pain.
It should be noted that severe dehydration is serious, and should be treated immediately. Be sure to consult a medical professional if you are unsure of your symptoms, or believe you are experiencing severe dehydration.
1. Get A Reusable Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle is a great way to track how much water you are drinking. If you are consciously trying to drink more water to relieve back pain from dehydration, you can easily set hydration goals with a reusable water bottle.
Setting a goal could be as easy as you refilling your water bottle by lunchtime. Or finishing all the water in your bottle by the time you are done your work out.
We recently wrote an article titled Best Water Bottle For Daily Use. Our top pick was from Hydro Flask, it is a stainless steel, and vacuum insulated water bottle. It has a straw lid, travels well and keeps contents cold for up to 24 hours. You can find it here on Amazon.
2. Eat Foods Rich In Water
Keep in mind that your body stays hydrated in more ways than just drinking water. Eating foods that are rich in water is a great natural way to increase your fluid intake.
Some natural foods that are rich in water include fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, tomatoes, cucumber, kiwis, peaches, oranges, and lettuce. Furthermore, soups and broths also have a high water content that make for a great meal and also help you stay hydrated.
3. Try A Hydration Drink
If you are looking for rapid rehydration relief, consider trying a hydration drink. They hydrate you more efficiently and effectively than water alone.
This is due to the electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals in the hydration drinks. If you are experiencing back pain from dehydration, consider trying a hydration drink for more efficient hydration than just water.
We recently wrote an article titled Best Hydration Drink For Runners, where we reviewed five of the best hydration drinks. Our top pick was the Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier because it provides the same hydration as drinking 2 or 3 bottles of water, as well as having many great flavors. You can find it here on Amazon.
With the human body composed of more than 60% water, it is imperative that we stay hydrated. Above all, it helps our bodies to perform as intended. Making a conscious effort to keep hydrated will help your body and mind stay healthy.
As discussed in this article, dehydration is a leading cause of lower back pain. Spinal discs that sit in between our vertebrae have an inner ring that is composed primarily of water.
When the discs naturally lose water throughout the day, they no longer provide the same absorption to impacts as when they are adequately hydrated. This results in lower back pain.
Staying hydrated throughout the day can help to relieve dehydration caused back pain. Suggested tips for staying hydrated include using a reusable water bottle to track water intake, eating foods rich in water, and trying a hydration drink (for rapid rehydration relief).
Do you experience back pain? Have you tried increasing your daily water intake to relieve pain?
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Facts for this article are referenced from credible sources. For further information, please read the referenced article from the following organization:
- Markson Chiropractic – Is Your Back Pain Caused By Dehydration?
Be sure to consult your health care professional with any medical questions. Similarly, the information found in this article should not be considered medical advice.