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All too often I have patients that come in with headaches, or back pain, that can be easily avoided by good old dihydrogen monoxide – or water.  So how does becoming dehydrated lead to headaches and pack pain?

Our body loves water and it relies on it for almost everything.  We use water for lubrication, insulation, and as a transportation medium. Without it, all of these processes are harder to do, if at all.  When we take in less water, our body learns ways to use water efficiently.  It will take water from some structures and give it to more vital tissues like our brain and nervous system. If the brain become dehydrated, it can lead to troubling effects.

The joints and discs of the spine are one of the first places water is not needed for vitality – so water is removed from these to help maintain health.  This is one of the primary causes of back pain and headaches.  How?

As the water is removed from the spinal discs, the discs are not as strong and resistant to weight and movement.  They compress and cause irritation to other surrounding structures.   The discs also cannot move the way they are intended, so the ligaments and muscles have to take over.  These become over used and the next step down the line is back pain.

Headaches!  When we look at over the counters intended to cure headaches, the instructions say to take with a glass of water.  90% of the time, the water will remove the headache – not the medication.  Medication manufacturers know this and they think you won’t notice, so you associate your headache relief to their wonder drug – but the wonder drug was really water. How does water help with headaches?  By keeping the brain bathed in plenty of water it is able to do its job with less work.  Also, a majority of headaches are derived from discomfort or pain in the upper neck.  The upper neck is just like the rest of back; water is good, no water is bad.

The average person should be drinking about eight – 8 oz. glasses of water.  So if you sleep 8 hours a day, and are awake the other 16, that equates to only 4 oz. per hour.  But who will remember to drink 4 oz. every hour?  A simpler way to get the proper amount of water intake is to drink one small glass of water at work every hour.  Your back and brain will thank you.   So get up and grab yourself some of Portland’s amazing water!