The link between dehydration and joint pain is often overlooked by many people, including medical doctors and health practitioners.
Many artificial machines do not work well (or do not work at all) without adequate lubrication. Indeed, many drivers have learned the hard way that if you drive a car even a few blocks once the oil pressure gauge drops below a certain level, the engine can sustain permanent and irreversible damage.
So, it is not surprising that the same principle applies to organic machines, such as the human body. Oil lubricates moving parts in a machine, while glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) fulfill a similar purpose in the body.
GAGs combine with some other elements to make a thick, gel-like cushion between joints.
This substance is basically like a sponge, and without adequate water the sponge dries out and can no longer provide the cushioning.
Not drinking enough water is the obvious culprit when it comes to dehydration. It’s not always easy to tell if you are dehydrated because many of the problems associated with this condition take a long time to develop.
The eight-glasses-of-water-a-day recommendation is a good place to start, but it is just a rule of thumb.
A better way to gauge your hydration level, albeit a rather more disconcerting way, is to examine your urine. If it is colored, has a noticeable odor, or is bubbly, you are probably dehydrated, even if the volume is high.
However, drinking more water may not always be enough to reverse dehydration because there are some other contributing causes as well, including the following:
Knees are one of the more prevalent joints that tend to cause pain and discomfort when someone is chronically dehydrated.
Doctors often treat dehydrated knees with Synvisc or other injections. Typically, a very large needle places this substance at the back of the knee. The procedure sounds painful, and it is painful. It’s also rather expensive and only a short-term solution.
Radical dietary changes are usually a better long-term solution, but change does not happen overnight.
If you increase your water consumption and excise poor dietary habits, the excess fluid goes first to vital organs then to under-lubricated joints.
Thus, be ready to drink lots of water, eat lots of veggies, and so on. In the meantime, to address soreness and bridge the gap, there are noninvasive treatments to prevent knee pain that are usually quite successful.
In short, improved hydration is an easy, inexpensive way to support healthy joint function and minimize various types of joint pain.