Dehydration and Joint Pain: How Your Hydration is Affecting Joint Health

June 12th, 2020 Becki Andrus
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Most people are familiar with common signs of dehydration: muscle cramps, excessive thirst, and lightheadedness.

But it is important to note that these symptoms occur when a person is severely dehydrated – other less-noticeable symptoms can occur due to mild dehydration. Just because you aren’t experiencing the serious symptoms listed above doesn’t mean that you aren’t dehydrated.

The truth is that up to 75% of the population in America is walking around dehydrated. If lost fluids aren’t replaced, then chronic dehydration can occur. Over time, this ongoing lack of hydration can take a toll on overall health, eventually leading to chronic health conditions.

How Water Impacts Your Health

When there are proper levels of fluid in the body, then the natural systems can work to deliver nutrients to the cells. Additionally, hydration is important for protecting vital organs and tissues throughout the body. Good hydration affects blood volume and circulation, which can help to reduce recovery times.

Since the body is constantly using fluid resources, it means that your internal supply is always being depleted. So, it is important to drink water throughout the day to stay ahead of your hydration needs.

Also, keep in mind that dehydration increases the risk of chronic inflammation. Water is essential for flushing out the waste, which keeps your body in optimal condition to fight off chronic health issues.

Does Dehydration Cause Joint Pain?

Dehydration can cause joint pain because of the lubricating effect it has on the joints. It’s estimated that 70 – 80% of your joint cartilage consists of water. Synovial fluid is the thick lubrication located between the joints, giving you a cushion so the bones don’t come in contact. This fluid is located in the joints throughout your body: hips, knees, feet, shoulders, and hands.

If you are hydrated, then the gel-like liquid provides nutrition, shock-absorption, lubrication, and cushioning in the joints. The framework is like a sponge, with the water filling the space to cushion the joint. This process helps to reduce friction in the cartilage and gives you a smooth, sustained motion in the joints. When the fluid is not sufficient, then there is less lubrication in the joints, which leads to the development of joint pain.

Is My Joint Pain Due to Dehydration?

Just because you are experiencing joint pain doesn’t necessarily mean that your pain is caused by dehydration. A lack of hydration has been found to contribute to joint pain, but it might not be the root cause of the pain.

If you notice mild pain in your joints, then try increasing your water intake to see how the pain is affected. But keep in mind that drinking one glass of water isn’t enough. You need to increase your overall water intake each day to give yourself the benefits of hydration over time.

While hydration won’t cure your joint pain, it can be beneficial for easing your symptoms. Not only does this natural remedy help your joints, but your overall health will benefit as well.

What are the Causes of Joint Pain Beyond Dehydration?

Other potential causes of joint pain might include:

  • Gout
  • Arthritis
  • Tendinitis
  • Injury
  • Sprains
  • Dislocation
  • Overuse of a joint
  • Lupus
  • Bursitis
  • Infectious diseases
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer

A variety of factors can contribute to the development of joint pain, which is why it is important to talk to an experienced orthopedic doctor for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

How Can I Drink More Water?

If you want to drink more water to improve your health, then you need to examine your daily habits and routines. Not only do you need to look for ways to increase your water intake, but you also need to ask yourself an important question: How do I help my family drink more water every day?

Here are a few simple tips that can make it easy to stay hydrated throughout the day:

  • Start each day by drinking a tall glass of water when you get up in the morning.
  • Keep a water bottle at your desk to sip throughout the day.
  • Always drink a full glass of water before lunch and dinner.
  • If you need a reminder, set a timer on your phone to send a notification when you need to drink.
  • Try using a water-tracking app to measure how much water you are drinking each day.
  • Keep a reusable water bottle with you when leaving the house.
  • Substitute other drinks for water instead.
  • If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding a bit of flavor with a squeeze of lemon. Or, you can buy low-calorie water enhancers to mix into your drink.

While daily fluid intake can come from a variety of foods and beverages, it is best to stick with water whenever possible. Plain drinking water is calorie-free and it provides the hydration your body needs without other factors that take a toll on your health. For example, drinking caffeinated beverages could actually contribute to dehydration because they have a mild diuretic effect which increases the need to urinate.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

Daily water recommendations vary depending on your age, sex, activity levels, outdoor temperatures, pregnancy, and breastfeeding status. The most effective way to decide how much water is needed is by watching for potential signs of dehydration:

  • Physical Symptoms: Pay attention if you have a dry mouth, headache, or you are feeling thirsty.
  • Hunger vs. Thirst: Learn to recognize the difference between thirst and hunger cues. For example, many people reach for a snack because they think they are hungry when the body is actually signaling for water. If you think you are hungry, then drink a tall glass of water and wait for 30 minutes to see if the feeling of hunger subsides.
  • Urine Color: It’s also a good idea to pay attention to the color of your urine. If you are hydrated, then the color will be light yellow. Darker shades of yellow indicate that you aren’t getting enough water.
  • Urine Output: The volume of urine is another indicator of hydration. If you aren’t peeing very much, then it’s likely that you should drink more water.

Talk to a Joint Pain Expert for Personal Treatment Recommendations

If you are experiencing joint pain, then it might be time to talk to an orthopedic doctor. You don’t have to live with the pain! Together, we can work to find the right joint pain treatment to improve your comfort and optimize your lifestyle.

At Orthopedic Associates, our bone and joint specialists are here to provide the quality services you need. We have a team of board-certified medical experts and offer a variety of cutting-edge treatments. Use our online form or call our office to request an appointment: (440) 892-1440.

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