Ask the Expert: How Does Hydration Impact Inflammation and Joint Pain?

Ask the Expert: How Does Hydration Impact Inflammation and Joint Pain?

There are many reasons why your joints might hurt. Underlying conditions known to contribute to joint pain include arthritis and gout, accidental injuries, and even Lyme disease.

"Gout is a very painful form of inflammatory arthritis that affects some people. It is caused when a substance called uric acid forms crystals within the joints. The concentration of uric acid affects the likelihood that crystals will form. Staying well hydrated can keep the concentration of uric acid lower, and can help your body to excrete it in the urine. Staying well hydrated might, therefore, lower the likelihood of gout flares," says Joshua Thurman, M.D.

Our joints (the areas where two bones are attached, allowing body parts to move) are covered with a coating of cartilage that keeps the bones from rubbing directly against each other. Synovial fluid fills the space between the bones and provides nutrients and lubrication for the joint and cartilage. The water we drink helps maintain an adequate blood volume so that nutrients can move through the blood and into the joints. It also allows waste products to move out of the joints.

"Inadequate hydration may contribute to joint pain," says Dr. Thurman. "The cartilage in your joints provides some cushioning when your joints are impacted and keeps them operating smoothly. Cartilage and also synovial fluid contain a substantial amount of water. Dehydration may affect their function."

Increasing your water intake may not cure your joint pain completely, says, but it can help your body manage the underlying issues that are causing you pain.

Learn more about the 15 most common causes of joint pain.


Dr. Joshua Thurman, MD is a board-certified nephrologist and Professor of Medicine specializing in renal medical diseases and hypertension at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. He has been in practice for more than 22 years.

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