Can Dehydration Cause Back Pain?

The human body needs water to survive. In fact, dehydration can kill you far more quickly than starvation. You might know that already – but did you know that not drinking enough water can contribute to back pain?

The most commonly-known symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, dizziness, dry skin and headaches, but the amount of water you drink can also have a direct effect on your spine. Here’s what you need to know.

Water and Your Spine

Your spine is made up of interlocking vertebrae that run from your neck down to the coccyx, which is sometimes referred to as the tailbone. The vertebrae protect your spinal cord. The vertebrae are separated from one another by intervertebral discs.

Each one of your intervertebral discs consists of two parts:

  1. A tough outer layer called the annulus
  2. A jelly-like center called the nucleus

The nucleus relies upon the water you take in to protect your spine. If you don’t drink enough and become dehydrated, the discs shrink and offer your spine less protection than they would if you were fully hydrated.

Even when you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated, your spine shrinks slightly throughout the day. When you go to bed at night, you are between ¼ and ½ an inch shorter than you are when you first wake up. That’s because your discs release and absorb water throughout the day in response to things like gravity and movement.

If you are dehydrated, then your intervertebral discs won’t be able to absorb the water you need while you sleep. When your vertebrae aren’t properly cushioned by the discs, the result can be chronic back pain.

How to Tell If You’re Dehydrated

Even people who don’t experience typical symptoms of dehydration may not be getting enough water. Here’s a simple test to see if you are dehydrated.

Pinch a small amount of skin on the back of your hand. Hold it for a moment and then, release it. If your skin moves back into place immediately, you are not dehydrated. If the pinched area stays pinched and only slowly returns to normal, it means that you’re dehydrated.

You’ve probably heard that you should drink eight glasses of water per day. A better rule of thumb is to divide your body weight by two to figure out how many ounces of water you need. If you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water. You should drink extra water if:

  • The temperature is very high or you’re out in the sun
  • You’re engaged in manual labor or intense exercise
  • You’re pregnant or nursing
  • You have a fever or any virus that causes vomiting or diarrhea

At first, you may need to remind yourself to drink water during the day. Once you grow accustomed to the feeling of being well-hydrated, your body will crave water and drinking it will be second nature.

Conclusion

Drinking enough water will ensure that your discs have what they need to cushion your vertebrae and protect your spine. It may not eliminate back pain, but if dehydration has been contributing to your back pain, you should experience some relief.

The Drug-Free Migraine Treatment You Don’t Know About

Migraine headaches are very common. In fact, they affect 38 million people in the United States alone. 13% of all adults suffer from migraines and of those, between two and three million get chronic migraines. It’s no wonder that many people rely on prescription migraine medications to relieve their symptoms.

The problem with the most commonly-prescribed medications is that they cause some unpleasant side effects. The side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Addiction

Worst of all, some of the migraine medications on the market can actually cause headaches, which is the last thing that anybody who suffers from chronic migraine headaches needs.

The good news is that there may be a way to get relief from migraine headaches without relying on medication: chiropractic care.

Research Shows That Chiropractic Care Can Relieve Migraine Symptoms

It’s easy to make a claim that a particular treatment or medication can relieve symptoms. What’s not so easy is to back the claim up with research. In the case of chiropractic care and migraine symptoms, there is research available to support the idea that getting spinal adjustments can relieve migraines.

One study looked at the impact of chiropractic treatment on 127 volunteers between the ages of 10 and 70. The people in the study group were given spinal manipulative treatments and asked to keep a standard headache diary over a six-month period.

At the end of the study, the volunteers in the study group experienced a greater reduction in their migraine symptoms than those in the control group. 22% experienced a 90% reduction in the severity of their symptoms, while another 50% reported significant improvements.

The researchers concluded that there was ample reason to believe that receiving regular chiropractic adjustments could provide relief to migraine sufferers.

Another, smaller study looked at the effect of spinal manipulation and thoracic massage on ten volunteers who had migraine headaches. The treatments were given when the subjects were experiencing a migraine.

The results were that the volunteers reported that the intensity of their migraine symptoms had been significantly reduced by the treatment. The mean pain reduction was 68.77% with a margin of error of 18.56%. There were no reported side effects and the patients were satisfied with the treatments they received.

The small size of this study means that additional studies and research are needed. But, there is certainly reason to be optimistic that a combination of massage and chiropractic adjustments can help to alleviate migraine symptoms.

In addition to the research studies we’ve mentioned there are a number of individual case studies that support the use of chiropractic treatments to treat migraines. One looked at the treatment of a 39-year old woman who had experienced migraines since she was 10 years old. She experienced an immediate improvement that was then sustained with additional treatments over a four-month period.

Conclusion

Migraine headaches can be debilitating to the people who have them. Chiropractic adjustments, alone or in combination with spinal massage, can provide relief in both the short and long term.

Reaves Chiropractic
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