All life on this planet needs water to survive, especially humans. It is vital because it affects every cell and organ in the body, and not drinking enough can lead to serious health problems, including back issues. In fact, being dehydrated has been shown to be a cause of back pain in many people. But how does not drinking enough water cause problems with the spine and back?
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As many people are aware, the spine consists of vertebrae and discs. Each of those discs is between two vertebra and acts like a cushion and shock absorber to protect the spine, and the inside of those discs is mostly made up of water. Over time, the water slowly leaves the disc and needs to be replaced. Normally this is done through the normal movement of the spine which allows any available water to be absorbed. However if the body is dehydrated, there is not any water for those discs to absorb. Because of this the disc becomes weakened and can begin to cause any number of problems such as pain and swelling, and can even lead to bulging or herniated discs.
Of course, the best way to prevent back pain from dehydration is to be sure to drink plenty of water. However, one of the biggest mistakes people make is that they wait until they are thirsty to have a drink, and by then you are most likely already dehydrated. So make sure your drink plenty of water even before you are thirsty so that you ensure you do not become dehydrated at all. Another great way to help back pain due to lack of water is with light exercise. Flexing your back and neck off and on during the day can help prevent muscles from getting stiff and causing pain.
Finally, one of the most common questions about staying hydrated is how much water are you supposed to drink? Most people have been told that they need 8 cups of water each day, but this actually isn't true! At least, not exactly. The amount of water you need to drink each day is different for each person. For instance, athletes require more water than most people because their bodies are using up more of it. Also, heavier people need more water than thinner people do. The easiest way to figure out how much water you need each day is to divide your weight by 20. So, a non-athletic person who is 120 pounds would likely need about 6 cups of water a day. And an athletic 220 pound person would need AT LEAST 11 cups, and probably more.
Finally, be aware that alcohol or beverages with high amounts of caffeine or sweeteners make you dehydrated, so you will need to drink more water along with those drinks to keep up.
At the Illinois Back Institute we strive to educate everyone as much as possible about their back pain and sciatica, because it is proven that the more people know about their problem the more likely they are to eliminate it!
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