Can Dehydration Cause Back Pain? 

Are you drinking enough water? If not it could have serious consequences for your back and the pain you feel during the day. 

can dehydration cause back pain

There's nothing worse than being on a dry job in my eyes. 

Maybe that's just the Englishman in me talking but it's true. 

So what consititutes a dry job I hear you ask?

It's one where the client seems allergic to the kettle, leaving you gasping for a cup of tea all day. 

And this is a major faux pax where I'm from. ​

Because unless the cups of tea keep coming out on a consistent basis you are going to have an unhappy workforce on your hands here!

However even if the tea is flowing on site don't be fooled.

Because when it comes to staying hydrated, cups of tea alone are simply not going to cut it (however much your average Brit will argue). ​

So you need to get into the habit of drinking water regularly too.​

And this is something you need to be even more aware of if you suffer from back pain. ​

Because allowing yourself to become dehydrated as you work can have dire consequences.

Especially for your back.

Why Does Dehydration Cause Back Pain?​

why does dehydration cause back pain

You need some water to put out that fire!

​So what's the big deal with drinking water?

Well, water is our life source and drinking enough of it is vital to keep your body healthy and working well.

In fact our bodies are made up of over 70% water so you can see how important water is.

You need it as it nourishes every single cell and organ in your body as well as flushing out the bodies toxins and helping to digest food.

Basically without the H2O we are fcuked!​

Water is also vital for keeping your spinal discs healthy.

And as these discs work as shock absorbers between the vertabrae of your spine, cushioning and supporting you as you move around.

They are vital for keeping your back free from pain.​

And they are also made up mostly of water.

They are designed to lose some of this water as you move around before reabsorbing more water later to rehydrate themselves​.

This reabsorbing process usually occurs during periods of sleep or rest ​and is vital for keeping them healthy.

​However when you are dehydrated your discs can't get the water they need to rehydrate themselves.

Which can cause them to shrink and you then lose the shock absorbing support they provide for your spine.

And this means more pressure being put on your back which can eventually lead to serious problems such as:

  • Bulging discs.
  • Herniated discs.
  • Disc degeneration.
  • Joint stiffness.
  • Lack of spinal flexibility.

​And more than anything else it will lead to more back pain in the present.

Other Health Problems Caused By Dehydration

health problems from dehydration

It's not just back pain you need to watch out for if you become dehydrated. 

Because it can also lead to other health issues such as:​

  • Migraines and headaches.
  • A lack of strength and energy.
  • Constipation.
  • Problems with your kidneys and a higher likelihood of developing kidney stones.
  • Fainting.

So there's more than one reason to keep your water levels topped up throughout the day.

How Can You Tell If You're Dehydrated?

As someone with chronic lower back pain it can be hard to tell if the pain you feel is caused by dehydration.

I mean your back hurts most days right?

So how can you tell if you are dehydrated or ​just simply feeling pain because of something else?

This is a difficult one but ​by staying hydrated you are at least ruling one potential cause of your back pain out.

And you can also get a clue by looking out for the signs of dehydration such as:

  • Feeling thirsty (yes, obvious I know!)
  • Having a dry mouth and lips.
  • Passing darker than usual coloured urine (it should be clear or light yellow if you are well hydrated).
  • Feeling tired or dizzy.
  • Feeling low on energy.

​These are all signs you should be drinking more water.

However don't wait until you see any of these symptoms before taking a drink.

Because if you feel thirsty it's a sign you've already started to become dehydrated.

So get into the habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day rather than just when you feel thirsty.​

How Much Water Do You Need To Drink Every Day?

I'm sure we're all guilty of not drinking enough water from time to time.

And there is no perfect amount of water that everyone should be aiming for.

Now traditionally the advice has been to follow the '8 x 8' rule.

That is drinking 8 glasses containing 8ozs (250ml) of water every day.

However there has been no scientific evidence to back up these amounts.

And most people won't want to drink this much every day anyway.

Also how much you need depends on many factors including:

  • Weight.
  • Gender.
  • How much physical effort you are expending.
  • The temperature of the place you're working.

So instead try drinking small amounts of water at regular intervals throughout the day.

Also drinking a glass of water when you first get up in the morning is a great way to replace fluids lost during the night and get your metabolic system started.

And staying a step ahead of your thirst during the working day will give you more energy too.

​When you get into the habit of drinking small amounts of water regularly you may find you are hitting the 8 cups target anyway.

And another tip is to avoid becoming dehydrated when you are drinking alcohol by drinking a glass of water in between drinks.

Why can't the advice be to drink 8 glasses of these every day?!!

And though I needed to tell you that I'm pretty sure no-one ever follows that advice!

So instead after a night out try to make sure you drink a pint of water before going to bed.​

And plenty more the morning after.

Not only will this ease your hangover it will also help your spinal discs to rehydrate overnight so you won't wake up feeling like you've been run over by a bus.​

Don't Like Water? Here Are A Few Ways To Spice It Up

Ok so by now you may be seeing the benefits of drinking more water.

But let's not beat around the bush here.

Not everyone enjoys drinking water.

There I said it.

And this can make staying hydrated a real struggle for some of us.

​Unfortunately other drinks such as tea, coffee, fizzy sodas and alcohol can't be used as alternatives.

This is because they are diuretics that will make you need to pee more often and can actually dehydrate you rather than hydrate​ you.

So what can you do to get around this problem?​

One way is to try and add some flavour into your water.​

Now there are bottles of water available from the big manufacturers that ​are infused with citrus flavours.

However I'd steer clear of these as they are also pumped full of sugar.

So instead why not try making your own versions at home?

For instance, adding fruit slices into your water infuses it with subtle but delicious citrus flavours.

And you can get creative here and try anything from apples, strawberries, limes, lemons, berries or grapefruit.

Fresh herbs such​ as mint, ginger and cinnamon sticks also work well to give your water a real kick.

All of which will make drinking water a more pleasant experience if you can come up with a flavour you enjoy.

So for inspiration check out these 14 fruit infused water recipes to get you started.​

Rounding Up

Dehydration is far from the only cause of back pain but it can be a contributing factor.

So it makes sense to get into the habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day.

Not only will this keep your body (and importantly your spinal discs) healthy​ and functioning well.

It will also give you more energy, ward off tiredness and fatigue, and help you to be ​more productive at work.

So if you think you may not be drinking enough try upping your water intake over the next few weeks and see if you notice the difference.

While it won't solve all your problems it can certainly help lower your pain levels.​

Resources used in researching this article:​​​

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I'm a Painter and Decorator, psychology graduate, and veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help my fellow construction workers to fight back against persistent back pain like I have.

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