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Why Drinking Water is Important to Your Spinal Health

Woman with WaterIf you are among the nearly 80% of Americans that don’t drink enough water, you may wonder how hydration impacts your overall health – including your spinal health. Water’s benefits on the body are easy to overlook, and that includes how hydration helps your spine.

As a practicing chiropractor in the Chesapeake region of Virginia for more than 20 years, I have educated many patients on the importance of staying hydrated. In this article, I will explain why water is good for your spine.

How does water help your spine?

Water helps your spine by keeping your spinal discs hydrated. Although your spine is mostly bone made of 33 vertebrae, each of the vertebrae is separated by a spinal disc. The discs in your spine are made of the following components:

  • Nucleus pulposus: This is the elastic part of the disc that absorbs the shock of movement. It has a jelly-like consistency and up to 85% of it is water. It also contains collagen fibers for support.
  • Annulus fibrosus: This part of the disc is made of multiple layers of curved fibers that surround and protect the nucleus pulposus. Although it too contains water, it contains much less water than the nucleus pulposus.

Because it is constantly compressed throughout the day when you sit or stand, the water in the nucleus pulposus can leak out. Every day, up to 20% of the water in the nucleus pulposus leaks out into your system.

When you lie down, the spinal compression eases and water begins to flow back into your spinal discs. However, the process requires you to be adequately hydrated. By drinking the recommended amount of water, the nucleus pulposus can rehydrate and stay healthy.

Does drinking more water help degenerative disc disease?

Yes, drinking water can help prevent degenerative disc disease. If you do not drink enough water, your spinal discs will not adequately rehydrate after water leaks out during the day. This means the discs become smaller and less functional, which increases the risk of injury to the collagen fibers in the disc. In turn, damaged collagen fibers can lead to inflammation, disc herniation, and may even compress spinal nerves.

Over time, because your spine can effectively become dehydrated, not drinking enough water may dry out your discs. This can lead to degenerative disc disease.

How Much Water Should You Drink?

Contrary to popular belief, the government does not recommend a specific amount of water to drink every day. This is because a person’s ideal water intake can vary greatly based on factors like:

  • Activity level: People who engage in physical activity like exercise are likely to need more water than those who don’t
  • Environment: People in hot climates often need a higher water intake to be adequately hydrated
  • Medical conditions: Your water requirements can vary based on your health. Some health conditions, like heart failure, may require you to drink less water than you otherwise would. Conversely, if you are breastfeeding, you may require much more water than normal.

When in doubt, it is best to talk to your doctor about the amount of water that is best for you to drink every day.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

You can make sure you drink enough water by making small changes to your routine every day. These include:

  • Fill a reusable water bottle and keep it with you all day. Some modern water bottles are smart bottles that will remind you to take a drink if it has been a while.
  • If you don’t like plain water, consider a water bottle with an infuser that allows you to add fruits for flavoring. Alternatively, you can consider stevia-sweetened flavored water enhancers
  • Drink a glass of water with every meal
  • Download a smartphone app to remind you to drink water and help you manage your hydration goals
  • Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables, which will provide you with the water found in the produce

Hydration and Spine Health at Precision Spinal Care

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and spine management physician, I work closely with you to develop a treatment plan that takes into account the root cause of your condition. When your spinal condition may be related to dehydration, I help you make a plan to increase your water intake.

To accomplish this, during your first visit, I will do a thorough examination. Afterward, I will go over my evaluation with you in detail. Together, we will set reasonable expectations and milestones for recovery and further evaluation. We will also put together a treatment plan that meets your care needs. I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting your goals.

My experience and expertise in spinal biomechanics allow me to competently and safely address your back issues. I am a trauma and hospital-qualifiedspine management physician. I have credentials in MRI spine interpretation, spinal biomechanical engineering, and orthopedic testing through the Academy of Chiropractic. I am also a fellow in Spinal Biomechanics and Trauma which is recognized through the SUNY Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.

If we determine that chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you. I may also recommend other specialists that can be used in conjunction with chiropractic care to help you meet your needs.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you are trying to treat your pain. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all the options with you and your family.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can alsoset up an appointment through our webpage.

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