Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Summer is off to a hot start here in the Twin Cities, and if you’re not careful, this heat can put extra stress on your body as a result of dehydration. If you’re sweating more and not regularly replenishing fluids, a number of different bodily systems will not be working at full capacity, and that can put them at risk for injury. One such area that can be susceptible to the effects of dehydration is your spine. In today’s blog, we take a look at some injuries and spinal issues that occur more commonly if you’re dehydrated.
Dehydration-Related Spinal Injuries
Staying hydrated is important for your spine and your whole body. For starters, when your body is dehydrated, the discs that sit between your vertebrae can shrink. This loss in disc height can lead to more vertebral movement and can put more pressure on the disc, putting them at risk for degeneration or herniation. When your body is dehydrated, it pulls fluids from these hydrated spinal discs, making the discs more brittle and susceptible to damage.
Shrinking spinal discs can also cause problems for other objects in the area. A shrinking spinal disc or a vertebral segment with excessive mobility can end up compressing one of the many spinal nerves in the area, leading to shooting or localized pain from a pinched nerve. As we mentioned above, shrinking discs can also bulge or herniate more easily, and they too can compress spinal nerves.
Your spinal muscles are also susceptible to problems as a direct result of dehydration. Muscles and soft tissues move more efficiently when they are properly hydrated, and they move less fluidly when they are dehydrated. You’re much more likely to pull a muscle or suffer from spinal muscle cramps if your body is dehydrated.
All spinal structures also suffer from inhibited blood flow when you are dehydrated. Your blood is full of essential nutrients that these structures need to function correctly, but when you’re dehydrated, you blood vessels contract and blood cannot reach structures as efficiently (your heart also has to work harder to pump this blood as a result of the vessel shrinkage, so there are cardiovascular risks associated with being dehydrated as well). If your spinal structures can’t easily get oxygenated blood because you’re dehydrated, they can suffer and injuries become more likely.
Staying hydrated will help protect your spine this summer, so make sure that water is always nearby, especially if you’ll be out in the heat for an extended period. Even if it doesn’t feel like you’re losing a lot of fluids, stay hydrated with water. When it comes to hydration, not all liquids provide the same benefits, as things like caffeine and alcohol can actually promote dehydration, so don’t just assume you’ll stay hydrated with coffee or a cold beer when you’re out in the summer sun. Water will be your best friend on a hot day.
If you are suffering from a spinal injury that was brought on in part by dehydration, or you were working out in the summer heat and now your back is hurting, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at the Midwest Spine & Brain Institute. We’ll help figure out what’s going on in your spine and set you up with a targeted treatment plan. For more information, or for help with your back pain, give our team a call today at (651) 430-3800.