Published July 22, 2023 by

Can Dehydration Cause Back Pain?

Dehydration can cause back pain. When someone mentions dehydration, symptoms of thirst and fatigue come to mind. But, back pain and spinal problems are unexpected results of dehydration. 

Water is a significant component of bodily functions, altering not only metabolism, skin and energy levels, but also the inner workings of physiological systems such as organs and tissues. The elements of the spine and back retain a surprising amount of water, and the lack of it affects your movements and your health. 

The following explanations provide an overview of the connection between hydration and spinal health.

Can Dehydration Cause Back Pain or Spine Problems? 

The composition of the spine, the impact of movements and the way the body rehydrates itself gives an idea of ​​how hydration interferes with the ability to move easily. 

Constitution of the Vertebral Column 

The vertebral column is composed of discs, vertebrae and cartilage, with the aim of enclosing the spinal cord. Discs take the brunt of any movement, providing flexibility and alleviating harmful shocks. Each disc contains a cushioned portion of fluid surrounded by an outer layer, the annulus fibrosus. Discs lose and regain water on a regular basis, which is a natural process as the stress goes on and you replenish your system with water. Here's how this process happens:

• Movement and Gravity Decrease Water – Movements such as jumping, running, walking, and bending draw some of the fluid out of the spinal discs. Pressure from everyday activities releases water from the discs, and the weight of gravity puts pressure on the spinal discs, which also draws some water out of the discs. One effect of water loss is a reduction in disc size and an inability to dampen as before.When the discs are so little that they can no longer support the necessary spacing and connection between the vertebrae, movement becomes challenging. 

• Spine Rehydration – The discs rehydrate overnight with the water you consumed. This process is called intradiscal fluid exchange because it replaces old fluids with new hydration. The disks become filled in and have their cushioning qualities again. They converge into vertebrae of the same shape, density, and size that your body needs to perform its fundamental functions. The organs are the first place the body directs hydration during sleep. Therefore, if there is not enough water to meet the needs of the column, these minor parts will suffer.

How Does Dehydration Affect the Spine?

The rate at which discs repair differs based on age and health, and habits such as proper hydration. If you are dehydrated and your back is taking most of the brunt, a number of uncomfortable reactions can occur. 

• Immobility – Dehydrated disks in the spine make mobility difficult, and this will cause wear and tear on the disks. The vertebrae will be closer together, making it harder for you to twist and bend your body. Limited movement will require you to rest more or have surgery. 

• Bulging or Herniated Disc – Bulging and herniated discs are one of the most painful results of spinal dehydration. 

• Pain – Thinner or herniated discs release chemicals into the spinal nerve roots. Pressure from the vertebrae on the nerve root can also cause pain at the site or radiating down the length of the nerve.

General Symptoms of Dehydration 

Dehydration means your body isn't taking in enough water or is expelling too much. Thirst is not the onset of dehydration, but proof that you don't have enough water. Watch for these symptoms to ensure you stay hydrated: 

• Weakness – If the muscles have lost their typical strength, this indicates that the body needs to replenish its water. If the lower back and legs are weak, dehydration can be central to the spine and back. 

• Dizziness – Dizziness usually comes from dehydration because blood levels become reduced and blood does not reach the head. 

• Change in Mental State – Confusion or irritability occurs when neurons in the brain sense low levels of body water. Mood swings are common with dehydration, but even anxiety and tension affect those who need an extra dose of hydration. 

• Dark Urine – Purely hydrated urine is clear and colorless, whereas dehydrated urine is dark yellow or orange in color. When the body doesn't obtain enough water, the kidneys conserve it, and this concentration of urine causes the colour to be darker, indicating the degree of dehydration.

Other Symptoms of Dehydration 

• Low Blood Pressure – Basic hydration raises blood pressure to a healthy level. Dizziness is a result of low blood pressure. Fainting is another common response. 

• Dry Skin – When you are dehydrated, your skin becomes dry because water makes up 30% of the skin. 

• Rapid Breathing – Drinking water removes secretions or mucus, blocking and lining the airways as well. In addition, the effect of dehydration on the body's blood flow restricts the availability of oxygen. 

• Rapid Heartbeat – Dehydration causes rapid heartbeat, compensating for the lack of blood reaching vital parts of the body. 

• Eye Changes – Visual signs of dehydration include sunken, dry eyes and low tear production, making them look increasingly tired. 

• Dry Mouth – A dry, even sticky mouth with extra mucus is a sign of extreme thirst.

Tips for Staying Hydrated 

• Eat fruits and vegetables, as they contain more water; 

• Check your urine; 

• Maintain an average intake of 2 liters of water per day; 

• Drink water gradually throughout the day; 

• Limit diuretics like coffee, tea, alcohol, and soft drinks because they cause you to lose water quickly. 

Drink more water when exercising or if you are in hot weather. If you're having back problems, water intake could be the problem, and even if it's not the main problem, staying hydrated can reduce the discomfort you're experiencing. See other causes for back pain.