Hydration and Musculoskeletal Pain

Hydration and Musculoskeletal Pain

Dehydration is thought to contribute to many diseases such as asthma, hypertension, stress, peptic ulcers, some forms of arthritis, chronic fatigue, depression and musculoskeletal pain. Our bodies are by design alkaline in nature but as we get older become more acidic due mainly to a reduction in our metabolism and as a generalisation, we tend to move less. We therefore tend to accumulate more toxins and acids from the environment that we live in, the foods we eat and by a decrease in the exercise that we take. Adequate hydration when coupled with regular exercise can help the body to counteract this.

A lack of adequate hydration can affect any part of the body, but in particular synovial joints, including the spinal intervertebral discs. Hydraulic properties of water stored in the disc core as well as other parts of the musculoskeletal system are indeed dependent upon adequate hydration. Contact surfaces in the spinal vertebrae require water for its lubricating property. The disc core within the intervertebral space also contains water and supports the compression weight of the upper body.

It is thought that 75% of the weight of the upper body is supported by the water volume that is stored in the disc core, 25% is supported by the fibrous materials around the disc.

Water appears to be a universal lubricating agent for all joints in addition to sustaining the force produced by weight or tension produced by the action of the muscles on the joint. Water is made available in most joints through an intermittent vacuum effect. The water is then dispersed by pressure brought about by joint movement. Exercise and adequate hydration go hand in hand.

Dr Batmanghelidj, the famous Iranian physician who conducted most of his research into the effects of dehydration on the human body whilst a prisoner after the outbreak of the Iranian revolution in 1979, advocates drinking adequate water in order to counteract and slow all degenerative diseases. He felt that most most modern day health problems and pain were not in fact illnesses but merely the body’s way of expressing dehydration. He felt that by the age of 20, up to 15% of all americans were dehydrated and by the age of 70, this figure had risen to 99%. He classified water as medicine.

What can we do to reverse the effects of dehydration and reduce our pain?

You should drink any time that you are thirsty and you should always drink to give the body the water it needs in order to perform a new function such as eating a meal or taking some exercise. Your hydration levels should be monitored via your urine: if it is straw-like in colour it means that the body is adequately hydrated but if it turns darker then the body is becoming progressively dehydrated.

As a general rule drinking 8 glasses of water per day is the recommended dosage, but it does depend on your weight and activity levels.

I generally advise patients suffering from spinal pain, arthritis, chronic fatigue and migraines to drink 2 glasses of water immediately upon waking. We are at our most dehydrated in the morning and its when our bodies need the power of water the most. Then its a simple case of drinking throughout the day. Remember to drink before and after a meal, a plateful of food is a solid object and the body will need help to digest it.

Over the years I have seen first hand how adequate hydration has helped patients to take a positive step in overcoming their chronic pain states, not only this but to make themselves generally healthier along the way. It is reported that by maintaining adequate hydration, it is possible to overcome high blood pressure, digestive disease and a host of other inflammatory conditions. A research article conducted into examining the effect of fluid intake and bladder cancer found that those men that drank the most water had the lowest risks of developing cancer. A further study found that people that drank a minimum of five glasses of water per day had half the risk of heart attack and stroke than those people who drank just 2 glasses per day.

Take a positive step towards a healthier lifestyle today by increasing your fluid intake today. If you would like further information on maintaining an adequate level of hydration to support an ongoing musculoskeletal injury, please contact Mike at info@mtphysioclinic.co.uk or call the clinic today for an appointment.

Please note that if you have congestive heart disease, kidney failure or are on diuretics, you should talk to your doctor before increasing your fluid intake.