Your Spine Needs Water
Your spine needs water! Plenty of water….and nutrients to stay healthy and perform at its best, just like the rest of your body. The reality is, your spine is not able to absorb the water and nutrients it needs in the same way as other parts of your body, nor is it able to eliminate the wastes from metabolism. In a person’s early teens, the spinal discs lose the nutritional supply coming from blood, and the elimination system wastes away (atrophies). As a result, the spine is only able to receive water and nutrients through osmosis (absorption from nearby cells) and a process called imbibition. This last method occurs when the motion between vertebral discs acts as a pump to move fluids in and out of the discs. Thus, the health of your spine depends on movement (surprise!) The sedentary lifestyles of many Canadians make this problem worse.
As we age and tend to be less active, the loss of spinal water can lead to disc degeneration and the eventual loss of motion between vertebral discs. Once this mobility is lost, further degeneration occurs more rapidly and the cycle of dehydration, shrinking, chronic pain and disease accelerates.
Movement is Life
Proper hydration is essential for nutrient delivery, lubrication and waste elimination. Normal vertebral discs are 88% water, and because discs lose some of their water during the day, rehydration also proves essential for maintaining the height of each disc. Each sleep cycle will restore most of the daily water loss, but not all of it. Stomach sleeping is extremely hard on the neck discs because it causes constant twisting that squeezes out water, and won’t allow it to be reabsorbed (think of what happens when wringing out a cloth).
If a person begins to become dehydrated, the body will look to retrieve water from places like the spinal vertebrae first. So drinking abundant amounts of water throughout the day remains an important way of maintaining your spinal health. Contrary to what has been reported by some in the media, certain aspects of spinal disc damage can in fact be repaired.
Discs are Made to Heal
Unlike other parts of the body that have abundant blood flow, spinal discs are slower to heal. This means that, while many chiropractic patients find relief from their pain relatively quickly, it typically takes longer for the discs themselves to heal.