Does drinking water help sciatica?

 

The quick answer is YES! Drinking water definitely helps to reduce the progression of disease and severity of symptoms like back pain that are originated from sciatica.

In order to fully understand the impact of adequate hydration on the remission of sciatica, we first need to teach you a little bit about sciatica and get you more familiar with the different causes of this common problem. Here is what you will read next:

 

What is sciatica?

Anatomy of the sciatic nerve

What are the main causes of sciatica?

How much water should you drink to help treating sciatica?

 

 

What is sciatica?

Before any explanation, it is better to know that the term 'sciatica', which is widely used among people, is not a medical terminology and the proper medical term that is used among physicians is lumbar nerve root radiculopathy or nerve root compression.

Sciatica is commonly referred to any type of pain that is triggered when there is pressure or irritation around sciatic nerves.  In most people, this pain is felt in lower back while sometimes it can also spread throughout the foot to foot fingers or toes.

Although the pain is the most common symptoms that patients suffering from sciatica may experience, other problem such as weakness and numbness may also happen in some patients.

 

Sciatic nerve anatomy:

The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the human body consisting of five spinal roots joining together just few centimeters after emerging from their foramens (opening). It passes from the lower back into the pelvis and exits through one great orifice or greater sciatic foramen (sciatic notch). It then continues its way behind the buttocks and the thighs toward the toes. When it reaches the back of the knee, it gets divided into two important branches that are responsible for innervating the leg muscles. On its way, the branches of these nerves will innervate the heel, sole and toes.

The sensation and movement of the components and tissues located alongside the path of the sciatic nerve from the lower back to the sole of the foot and the toes are mainly accomplished by this large nerve. Therefore, as expected, any pressure applied to the trunk of the sciatic nerve (mostly happening in the lower back and pelvis) can result in pain, tingling, numbness, lethargy and muscle weakness.

As a quick check, if you can use the muscles in the back of your leg like standing on your toes or if you can move your toes upward and downward freely, then your sciatic nerve is healthy and there is no life-threatening condition.

 

What are the main causes of sciatica?

Any pressure or injuries applied to the sciatic nerve or its roots will cause different kind of symptoms ranging from the backpain to weakness or even paralysis that may spread along the path of sciatic nerve. The main causes of sciatica are:

 

Intervertebral disc herniation:

There are five bony vertebrae in the lumbar region, known as the lumbar vertebrae. From the space and opening between these vertebras, a pair of nerves called spinal roots emerges, one from the right side and one from the left side. The sciatic nerve trunk consists of the connection of the five lumbar roots and the next four sacral spinal roots.

Between the two vertebrae is a flexible tissue called the intervertebral disc, which gives the vertebrae an elastic structure. The circumference of each disc between the vertebrae is surrounded by a tight ring called the annulus. Whenever the vertical pressures on the spine and the disc increase, the jelly-like core, in the middle of the disc, puts pressure on the annulus ring around the disc. If this pressure is strong enough or applied frequently, it may cause some part of the disc to move out of the spine, a condition known as a hernia or intervertebral disc herniation.

This protruding part can put pressure on the spinal roots, which are just leaving the space between the vertebrae. This pressure may cause inflammation or irritation of the spinal cord and the sciatic nerve. This inflammation is usually accompanied by muscle spasms and cramps. These spasms and cramps are the source of pain you feel when try to move side by side or bending forward or backward.

Compression and inflammation of the sciatic nerve cause radicular pain in all or part of the nerve pathway. It means that while someone will only experience small pain around his or her ankle, others may feel severe weakness and pain all the way from back to toes.

Disc herniation is a common cause of sciatic nerve pain among young people. As you get older, the disc nucleus loses its water and becomes inflexible. This is where consumption of enough water will help reducing the pain.

At older ages, degenerative changes of the vertebrae and facet joint osteoarthritis are the most common causes of spinal cord pain.

 

Degenerative changes:

With aging, disc dries out, and as a result, the height of the disc between the vertebrae decreases. Over time, special bony protrusions called bony spines are gradually formed on vertebrae adjacent to the disc, to compensate for the progressive weakening of the disc. In addition, there are joints called facet joints at the junction of two adjacent vertebrae, which also suffer from osteoarthritis which makes the foramen or openings even narrower.

These degenerative changes narrow the hole from which the nerve root protrudes which alongside the bony spines compress the root of the spinal nerves further.

 

Is drinking adequate water helpful in treating sciatica?

Water is one of the most critical substances in our life. Wherever there is life, water can also be found, from the smallest living cells to the largest animals.

As explained above, reduction in the flexibility of the disc due to aging and drying of the gelatinous nucleus in the middle of the intervertebral disc, causes degenerative changes in the vertebral body bone. This is why the consumption of enough healthy and fresh water is essential to maintain the health, elasticity and vitality of the intervertebral disc. Moreover, consuming adequate fluids also adjusts the volume of fluid flowing into the arteries. Having adequate blood flow to the arteries around the site where nerve inflammation and muscle spasm have happened causes the toxins and inflammatory substances, that cause pain, to be washed away more quickly resulting in faster recovery.

To be well-hydrated, it is necessary to drink four to six glasses of healthy water during the day. Of course, this amount may increase on hot days or when you are exercising or involved in intense physical activities (like running in hot weather). But keep in mind that just as not drinking enough water is harmful, too much water consumption can also have negative impact on your health, especially on your brain cells.

When the volume and color of your urine are fine and you urinate frequently, it means that your body is well-hydrated. Remember that the concentrated and low urine output can be a sign of being dehydrated.

 

 

 

 

 

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