Discs that support the 33 vertebrae making up the four distinct parts of your spine need to be hydrated to function properly. Gradual wear and tear of joints and other parts of the spine coupled with a loss of the height and firmness of discs can increase instances of back pain.
What Causes Spinal Dehydration?
Cartilage on the end of the joints of the spine wears down over time, although you may never experience any significant discomfort from this degeneration. According to Los Angeles spine surgeons, back pain often results when thinner, dehydrated discs are affected by worn joints. This added pressure on spinal discs sometimes causes inner disc material to press outward and inflame adjacent nerve roots. Degeneration can be further accelerated by:
- Excess weight
- Repetitious movements
- Heavy lifting and twisting
- Prolonged periods of inactivity
How Your Spine Absorbs Water
During the early teen years, discs supporting the spine absorb nutrients from the blood, an ability that disappears in adulthood. Nutrients from water are then instead absorbed by either osmosis or imbibition, motions between spinal discs that “pump” fluids in and out of those discs.
Why Hydration Matters
If you reach a point where you’re dehydrated, your body will look for sources of water elsewhere, which includes the discs that support your spine. The result is less cushioning as you move, which adds to the degeneration of joints. Dehydrated discs also provide less space for nerves and increase the risk of experiencing nerve-related pain.
Long periods of dehydration, which is often serious by the time your body is drawing water from spinal discs, can result in back pain. If not addressed, it may eventually lead to a need for artificial disc replacement. A preventative lifestyle can ensure that sufficient water is absorbed by the spine and its supporting discs, as can:
- Regular cardiovascular exercises
- Healthy dietary and nutrition choices
- Management of chronic conditions like diabetes
The standard recommendation of eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day is a good rule of thumb to prevent or minimize any back pain from dehydration. If you lead an active lifestyle, maintain proper form while working out or playing sports and quickly replace depleted electrolytes. Drink extra water on hot, humid days.
If persistent back pain is disrupting your everyday life, it’s time to reach out to The Spine Institute in Los Angeles and speak with a board-certified spine surgeon. Call our office today at (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.