Orthopedic Specialists

Dehydration and Joint Pain

June 3, 2020

Dehydration is so much more than just being thirsty.  75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.  By the time you “feel” thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Not drinking enough water – not coffee or pop – but pure water, can lead to fatigue, slow down metabolism, affect cognitive functioning, and contribute to the formation of kidney stones.  Lack of hydration has also been noted as a contributor of joint pain.

About 70-80% of your joint cartilage is made of water, so it comes as no wonder why the lack of hydration is associated with joint pain.  The water content in cartilage is regulated by proteins that become a gel-like consistency when they come into contact with water.  This gel-like liquid provides cushioning, lubrication, shock absorption and nutrition to the cartilage in our joints.  They are the framework, much like a sponge.  For the sponge to be “full” and provide that “cushion” it needs to be filled with water.  That is why, even if you take specific supplements for your joints, without enough water, they will not provide the best benefits.

How much water do you need?  Obviously you need to drink plenty of water on a daily basis.  Regardless of what you may hear, half a gallon of water a day is not unreasonable for most people.  Remember, some of the other liquids we may consume in a day, may have the opposite effect of hydrating. Caffeine in coffee, tea, and soda contributes to dehydration. Try to drink water, not just when you feel thirsty, and on a regular basis throughout the day.  If you are not used to drinking that amount of water, it will take your body a bit to get used to it, but then you will start to crave the water and it will become a habit.

The warm weather is here and drinking water will be easier to remember, but you also may need to increase your water intake even more, especially if you are active and/or working out in the warmer temperatures to replace the sweat you may lose through activity.

Make a habit of drinking more water.  Have a full glass when you get up in the morning, sip water at your desk during the day, have a full glass before lunch and one before dinner.  Find a few other set times during the day when you could drink a glass.  Before you know it, you will be in the habit and you will notice how much better you feel being well hydrated.

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