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Column The Relationship Between Water Intake and Back Pain


September 22, 2023

In this issue, we will discuss the relationship between fluid intake and back pain.

Please take this opportunity to educate yourself on how correct fluid intake can affect your back health.

〇 The relationship between fluid intake and back pain

 Adequate fluid intake affects many functions of the body. The correlation with low back pain in particular has been garnering a lot of attention lately.

 This is because in recent years, it has become established that lack of water contents affects various other aspects of the body.

① Water contents in the intervertebral discs

 Low back pain can be attributed in part to the deterioration of the intervertebral discs leading to low water contents in the discs.

The intervertebral discs act as cushions and are located between each vertebra in the spine.

 With proper fluid intake, the discs retain moisture and remain flexible, but conversely, lack of water promotes disc deterioration and may contribute to back pain.

 To keep the discs healthy, it is necessary to keep the blood vessels that nourish the discs from constricting.

 To that end, it is important to make a conscious effort to drink fluids at room temperature, even in summer.

② Working on maintaining muscle flexibility.

 Muscles play an important role in supporting the body, and lack of water may reduce the flexibility of muscles and cause them to stiffen.

 This in turn may affect the muscles around the lower back to stop functioning properly, increasing the risk of back pain.

③ Reduction of inflammation

 Body water contents also helps eliminate waste products from the body and reduces inflammation.

 When inflammation becomes chronic, it can affect the lower back area.

 So, adequate fluid intake is necessary to prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of back pain and pain.

 In fact, some people experience relief from numbness and pain simply by making a conscious effort to increase their fluid intake.

 It is important to note that the causes of pain are truly varied and are not necessarily caused solely by muscles, discs, or other tissues.

〇  Key points for adequate fluid intake

① Daily fluid intake

 The amount of fluid intake required per day may vary from person to person, but guidelines usually recommend 25 ml (0.85 fl oz) to 35 ml (1.20 fl oz) for 1 kg (2.20 lb) of body weight.

 By that order, 60-year-old person weighing 60 kg (133 lb) would need about 1.8 L (60 fl oz) of water per day.

 Since water also gets dissipated through urine and feces, or through the skin and breathing, even if we take into account and subtract the water produced by the body and the food we eat, we still need about 1.2 L (40 fl oz) of water a day.

 That is why it is essential to make it a habit to drink water regularly.

 * In fact, age, weight, the amount and intensity of exercises, the average body temperature, and other factors also play a significant role. The information presented here is only as guidelines.

  Since these guidelines are just indications, if you find that you are not drinking enough, you should initially aim at 2 big plastic PET bottles per day.


② Breathing through the nose

 Breathing through the mouth has a tendency to make your mouth dry, making the body mistakenly believe that it is thirsty, which may in turn trick the body into taking in more water than necessary.

By nature, humans mainly breathe with their nose and only use their mouths in cases of emergencies.

 Due to the recent improving of teeth alignment among the youth and a lowered positioning of the tongue, breathing through the mouth has been gaining ground in modern times.

 But since it is a well-known fact that breathing through the nose is more beneficial for the immune system, if you have a tendency to breathe through your mouth, you should take this opportunity to address this shortcoming.

③ Balanced beverages

 It is important to include herbal teas and smoothies in it as well, and not to consider body hydration as just water.

 However, please avoid drinks that contain too much caffeine or sugar.

④ Supplementing water intake with meals

 Since vegetables and fruits are known to be rich in water contents, by taking in water through food as well, it is possible to maintain a good hydration balance inside the body.

⑤ The importance of fluid intake in the care for back pain

 We have learned today that adequate fluid intake is an essential element in the prevention and improvement of back pain, because water contents support disc and muscle health and reduces inflammation, so incorporate proper fluid intake as part of your daily routine to maintain your back in good health.

If you suffer from back pain, you should also seek professional advice.

In the next issue, we will discuss how to drink water to keep your body healthy.

Please check it out if you have a moment.

Written by Takeshi Deguchi, Registered Dietitian

ILC International Back Pain Clinic Tokyo