Almost everyone has heard, “Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.” We buy our Yeti cups and carry our Camelback bottles everywhere. And yet, getting the necessary amount of water into our systems always seems to fall by the wayside. We’ll drink our endless coffees, and our flavored teas. We want our smoothies for our ‘cleanses’ to strengthen our immunity, when the easiest option would be to drink water. We can drink everything else, taking up the space water could fill. Water can help prevent migraines, clear our skin, and keep our body’s circulatory system functioning well. These facts, people also hear frequently. Less commonly known, staying frequently hydrated with water is incredibly important for pain. Water hydration has a direct relationship with pain.
People who experience chronic pain need to be vigilant that they do not become dehydrated. Let alone dehydrated, they need to make sure they’re consuming more than the recommended amount of water. The nerve endings in our body that send our pain signals to our brain will fire more often when dehydrated. Patients who suffer from chronic pain due to arthritis, cancer, or even musculoskeletal disorders can have their pain senses enhanced because they’re not hydrated enough. The last thing a chronic pain patient needs is to add more physical stress onto a body that is already entwined in a cycle of pain. Dehydration amplifies pain and reduces brain blood flow response. So what does this mean? It means not only does the pain feel worse, but your body’s natural response to eliminate the pain, slows down. Dehydration can also lead to your regimen of medications (such as various anti-inflammatory medications or opioids) being less effective. A patient could take a heavy dose of medications thinking that their pain is not being sufficiently treated when in reality, they’re sabotaging their body by being dehydrated. They’re losing their body’s natural pain-relieving defenses, and weakening the effectiveness of the medication. Any cognitive behavior therapy a person may be practicing to reduce their pain will also suffer.
The College of Health in New Zealand decided to test this theory of pain and dehydration being linked. The results confirmed the connection between increased pain and lack of water. The test patients were told to change nothing about their diets or routines, simply to refrain from taking in any fluids. Then their feet were submerged in ice cold water. This process was called the “cold pressor test.” According to Dr. Mündel (who led the research) this clinical test is a great way to “measure how ‘normally’ a person’s cardiovascular system is working” (NeuroSceience News).
Today’s lesson: We all know drinking water is good for your body. It sharpens your thoughts, is great for your skin, and helps the various systems of the body get moving. But if that body is already taking a hit in terms of chronic pain, don’t amplify the problems. By making a purposeful habit of drinking water, you’re actually boosting the ability of your medication to work properly. What’s the point of having a parachute if there’s a hole in it? None. Don’t hinder your body’s healing with a simple denial of water. DRINK YOUR WATER.
If you have questions or concerns about pain management, back pain, and dehydration please call a pain specialist, today.