While there is medication designed to help alleviate joint pain, there is a simple and timeless remedy that many health care professionals overlook. The remedy is adequate hydration, and in this article, we will take a closer look at the link between dehydration and joint pain.
If you have arrived at this article online, it is probably because you are experiencing some joint pain and started searching the web for answers. Before going to your doctor or healthcare professional for medication, first, focus on your hydration by drinking more water.
In addition to helping reduce joint pain, this simple remedy may have more of a positive effect on your body than you think.
As your body is made up of over 60% water, a lot of your regular bodily functions rely heavily on you staying adequately hydrated. Such functions include temperature regulation, removing waste and toxins, as well as transporting nutrients throughout your body.
When you are losing more fluids than you are gaining, over time, your body can become dehydrated. Your body naturally loses fluids when you breathe, sweat, vomit, and as you produce regular waste in the form of urine and feces.
With that being said, it is important that you are actively replenishing lost fluids with healthy food and drinks in your diet.
Why Can Dehydration Cause Joint Pain?
To understand how dehydration can cause the joint pain you are experiencing, you must first understand cartilage. Cartilage is used all throughout your body to connect different parts.
While cartilage has many uses in the body, this article primarily focuses on the use of cartilage as a way to connect different bones. Cartilage is firm and strong; however, it is much more flexible and elastic than bones.
Cartilage is composed primarily of water, and in some cases, it can consist of up to 80% water content. The flexibility and elasticity of cartilage is mainly due to its high water content.
Cartilage in your joints helps to provide lubrication and cushion the forces between bones. When your cartilage is adequately hydrated, it performs as intended.
It helps to absorb the loads that you place on your joints from the weight of your body and impact you cause by walking or moving.
However, when your body becomes dehydrated, your cartilage becomes less effective. Your body starts to take water away from certain areas and use it as required for other bodily functions. One of the areas your body takes water from is your cartilage.
As your cartilage begins to lose water, it loses its ability to provide the same lubrication. Furthermore, its ability to cushion the forces between bones considerably decreases.
Think of your cartilage like a sponge. When a sponge is full of water, it is squishy and provides a cushioning effect. When a sponge dries out, it becomes hard, and the lack of water doesn’t soften the impact when you push on it.
How Can Hydration Reduce Joint Pain?
While it may not solve all instances of joint pain, adequate hydration can significantly help to reduce your joint pain. Making a conscious effort to consume a good amount of healthy liquids will help to keep your cartilage filled with water.
As mentioned above, when your cartilage is filled with water, it can provide your joints with the lubrication required to cushion the impact between bone as it was intended to do.
Furthermore, when cartilage becomes dehydrated, joints can become inflamed which can also lead to the pain that you might be experiencing.
When parts of your body become inflamed, it is your body’s way of trying to heal what it is fighting. Drinking water can help your body fight and reduce inflammation that may be causing your joint pain.
How To Tell If You Are Dehydrated? (Dehydration Symptoms)
There are many symptoms you can experience when suffering from mild dehydration. For starters, if you aren’t peeing much throughout the day, or if it is dark yellow when you do pee, you are probably slightly dehydrated.
When you are adequately hydrated, you should be peeing every two to three hours. Furthermore, you can tell you are hydrated from the clear or light yellow color of your pee. Your pee is a light color because it is diluted from the excess water your body is removing.
However, when you are dehydrated, your pee is dark yellow because your kidneys are filtering the waste and toxins from your body, but retaining the water. Therefore, your pee becomes more concentrated and as a result, darker in color.
If you are already feeling thirsty, there is also a good chance that you could be experiencing mild dehydration. When you feel thirsty, it is your body’s way of telling your brain that it requires more water.
It is important to pay attention to the signs your body is giving you and give it what it wants, which is more water. Other signs of mild dehydration can include headaches, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, and feeling faint.
How Much Water Should You Be Drinking?
Despite what experts used to tell you about drinking eight, eight-ounce glasses of water a day, this is no longer the case. While it might be easier for experts to give a one-size-fits-all answer in regards to how much water you should drink, staying hydrated differs greatly for each individual.
The amount of water you should drink each day can depend on factors such as:
If you have a larger body, you will require more water to keep you hydrated. There is more ground to cover for your body to transport nutrients, and more cells to keep hydrated.
How Often You Exercise
When you exercise, your body temperature heats up. As you heat up, your body produces sweat as it tries to cool you down. Sweat is one way your body loses fluid and, if not replenished, can lead to dehydration. Those who exercise should be drinking more fluids.
What Types Of Food You Eat
Your diet can also have an impact on the amount of water you should drink. Fruits and vegetables are high in water content, and many contain between 80% to 90% water. If your diet consists of a lot of food that has a high content of water, you won’t need to drink as much fluid.
Activity Level Throughout The Day
Your activity level can have a significant impact on how much water you need to drink. If you are a receptionist that sits at a desk all day, you might require less water than if you are on your feet, doing physical labor, and constantly moving around.
How Much Time You Spend Outdoors
If you work outdoors or spend a lot of your free time being active outdoors, especially in the heat of the summer, you will sweat more. As previously mentioned, sweat is fluid leaving the body, and you will need to drink more to replenish this loss of fluid.
It Is Difficult To Quantify How Much Water You Should Drink
Due to the reasons given above, it is hard to put a quantity on how much water you should be drinking each day. However, if you are experiencing joint pain, you should start by increasing your water intake by drinking more water than you currently are.
If you have increased your water intake over an extended period of time and are still experiencing joint pain, it might be time to visit your doctor.
For good hydration techniques, you should be drinking water:
- when you feel thirsty
- at regular intervals throughout the day
- during exercise and
- when exposed to warmer climates
How To Stay Hydrated?
With busy schedules, staying adequately hydrated isn’t always at the top of your to-do list. However, below are some tips to help make sure you are getting enough water each day:
1. Purchase A Reusable Water Bottle
It is a lot easier to track how much water you are drinking, as well as set hydration goals if you are drinking from the same water bottle each day. We recommend any from the article we wrote on the top 5 water bottles for everyday use.
However, our favorite is the stainless steel water bottle from Hydro Flask. It has a handy carry loop on the lid and can keep contents cold for up to 24 hours. You can find it here on Amazon.
2. Eat Foods With High Water Content
Drinking a glass of water isn’t the only way your body receives water. A lot of the water you consume is from the food you eat. Fruits and vegetables contain large percentages of water, as well as soups, broths, stews, and chili.
3. Use Hydration Solutions After Exercise
It is important to replenish lost fluids from exercise quickly. You can do this during and after your exercise. While water is always a good choice for rehydration, oral hydration solutions (ORS) or hydration drinks are designed specifically for this purpose.
We wrote an article about the top 5 hydration drinks and recommend you try any one of them. Our favorite is the Liquid I.V. hydration multiplier that you add to 16oz of water. It provides the same hydration as drinking 2-3 bottles of water and it comes in three tasty flavors. You can find it here on Amazon.
4. Set Reminder Alarms
When life is busy, set reminders to drink more water. This could be in the form of a sticky note, a reminder on your smartphone, or even a water bottle with a reminder alarm.
5. Set Hydration Goals
Set a goal of how much water you want to drink each day. This way, you aren’t just aimlessly drinking water whenever you remember. Instead, you are making a conscious effort to stay hydrated.
It will take time to determine what the right hydration goal is for you. However, keep trying different amounts until you notice the positive effects of drinking water. Be sure to increase your hydration goals on days when you are exercising or out in the sun for extended periods.
In a recent article, we provide 16 tips you can do daily to drink more water. We have covered some of the important tips from that article here, but take a quick read through it to see if you can adopt any others into your daily routine.
The link between joint pain and dehydration might be stronger than you initially thought. While drinking water is important for your overall health, it also plays an important role in keeping your cartilage hydrated.
When your cartilage is hydrated, it acts as a cushion and helps absorb the forces your joints experience from gravity acting on your body.
It is difficult to say how much water an individual requires to stay hydrated as the value can vary greatly based on your body size, and how active you are.
However, you can stay hydrated by drinking water when you are thirsty, at regular intervals throughout the day, during exercise, and in warmer climates. Eating foods that have a high water content such as fruits, vegetables, and soups are other healthy ways to increase your water intake.
For any comments, questions or feedback you might have, please send us a message through our contact form.
Be sure to consult your health care professional with any medical questions. Similarly, the information found in this article should not be considered medical advice.