Joint pain is quickly becoming one of America’s most prevalent health problems. 70% of adults older than 50 report experiencing joint pain. 8% say that their pain is severe, making it hard to walk, exercise, or work.
Many assume their joint pain comes from arthritis, overexertion, or age. But a common cause of joint pain in young and old people is dehydration. If you want effective long-term joint pain relief, you must understand how dehydration contributes to joint pain. Here’s how the two conditions are connected.
How Dehydration Causes Joint Pain
Dehydration causes joint pain in two ways. Your cartilage is tissue that connects your bones together and prevents them from colliding with each other. Water makes up 65%-85% of your cartilage, so when you get dehydrated, your cartilage shrinks. Your bones may start to rub against each other, causing significant pain and stiffness. You are also more likely to get injured when you fall on your joint, as your cartilage isn’t there to protect your bones.
Your synovial fluid is liquid inside your joints that cushions two or more bones and prevents them from touching each other. The more dehydrated you are, the less synovial fluid you have. You are more likely to experience severe pain when you extend your arm or exert yourself.
Dehydration can make pre-existing pain and joint problems like arthritis worse. It can also make it harder for you to fight inflammation and infections in your joints that are contributing to your pain. Your body uses water to flush toxins from your joints, so toxins can build up and create inflammation.
Keep in mind that dehydration is one cause of joint problems. If you are experiencing pain even after you treat dehydration, you may have another condition contributing to your joint discomfort.
Related: Preventing Knee Pain in Old Age
The easiest way to fix dehydration is to increase your water consumption. Drink a glass of water with every meal, whenever you take oral medication, and whenever you feel thirsty. You should also eat hydrating foods that contain water, including fruits and vegetables.
Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages can dehydrate you, even if you drink them with mixers or ice. If you want to add flavor to your water, you can stir in a small amount of lemon or lime juice. Carbonated beverages are not dehydrating, so feel free to drink seltzer water. Milk and fruit juice are also okay to drink, but find juices without artificial sweeteners that make you thirsty.
If you are experiencing dehydration from diarrhea or vomiting, drink water with electrolytes. Many sports drinks and rehydration formulas contain electrolytes. If you don’t have a sports drink, mix one liter of water with six teaspoons of sugar and one-half teaspoon of salt until the salt and sugar are no longer visible.
Signs of extreme dehydration include nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and a weak or rapid pulse. Extreme dehydration is a medical emergency that requires assistance from a doctor. You may need an IV and rehydrating solutions to avoid complications.
Being Careful With Exercise
Exercise can help you build strength in your joints but can also dehydrate you and lead to significant joint pain. Always have water when you exercise, even if the workout is low-intensity. It’s okay if you sweat, as sweating allows your body to cool down and avoid heat sickness. But if you’re sweating excessively, you should drink more water and take a break so your body temperature comes down.
Never exercise in an extremely hot environment. A high body temperature can worsen dehydration and joint pain and hospitalize you. Try to work out indoors in a gym where you can adjust the temperature with a thermostat or fans.
Stretches can build muscles in your joints, improve your flexibility, and relieve stiffness or aches. You should perform stretches before aerobic exercise or weightlifting. The best stretches for knee pain include half squats, hamstring curls, and straight leg raises. Great stretches for shoulder and elbow pain include neck releases, chest expansions, and seated twists.
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Changing Your Lifestyle
Smokers have a higher risk of dehydration and developing joint problems, including rheumatoid arthritis. Stop smoking and avoid areas with low air quality, as you risk inhaling toxins that can harm your immune system and joints.
Excess weight can press down on your joints, exacerbating pain and making mobility difficult. Talk to your doctor about how you can lose weight in a healthy fashion while building joint and muscle strength.
Proper posture can help with pinched nerves, arthritis, muscle strains, and other injuries that cause or contribute to joint pain. When sitting down, keep your feet flat on the ground without crossing your knees or ankles. Position your knees so they are at the same height as your hips. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the floor when not using your hands.
You should keep your head up and back straight while walking or running. Keep your shoulders back and allow your arms to swing without slouching forward or forcing your joints back.
Finding Additional Resources
You can use other tools to combat joint pain and dehydration. Here are a few common resources that everyone can use. Talk to your doctor before taking any joint pain prescription or buying any medical product.
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If you continue to experience joint pain, try taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can reduce inflammation in your joints and suppress pain signals, making it easier to cope with pain. Common prescriptions include aspirin and ibuprofen. Ibuprofen can be dangerous to take while dehydrated, so select aspirin if you’re experiencing joint pain after exercise.
Taking your NSAIDs with water can relieve dehydration and make your medication easier to swallow. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for dosages and avoid taking your prescriptions with blood-thinning medicines, as they can interact.
A 2022 study found that cannabidiol (CBD) can help patients with joint inflammation. If you are experiencing intense joint pain, you can use Full Spectrum CBD Pain Cream for immediate relief. You can apply the cream on or around your joint, and the CBD can relieve inflammation deep in your tissues.
Full Spectrum CBD Tincture with Turmeric contains coconut oil, which can hydrate you and provide essential electrolytes. Turmeric contains curcumin, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage in the joints. Add a few drops of CBD tincture to a glass of water for additional hydrating power and easier digestion.
If your joint pain makes sleeping difficult, try CBD Capsules for Sleep. The capsules are soft, making them easy to chew if you have jaw or neck pain. CBD can induce drowsiness and make it easier to sleep, and the capsules also contain CBN and melatonin, two compounds that can induce sleep.
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