Joint pain can be an extremely debilitating and distressing experience, punctuated by pain, discomfort and restricted mobility. Whether you have been suffering from an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis or have sustained an injury, the chances are that you’ve been prescribed a variety of pain medications from your doctor, which may or may not be relieving your symptoms.

    However, you might also be overlooking a simple but essential factor in the management of joint pain - water.

    Most of us are probably aware of the overall benefits of drinking water – it can prevent kidney infections, it keeps our skin cells strong, it supports our immune system and generally keeps things ticking over. On average, we should be drinking about 8-10 glasses of plain water a day, depending on our gender and lifestyle. What we're perhaps not so knowledgeable about, however, is how water can directly impact our sensitivity to joint pain.

    In order to understand this, we first have to understand the function of cartilage. The cartilage is a connective tissue that lines the surface of the joints and acts as a cushion between the bones, absorbing shock and easing friction. Cartilage is kept lubricated by a gel-like liquid known as synovial fluid, which is formed by glycosaminoglycan bonding with sulphur compounds.

    Joint pain usually occurs when the cartilage has been weakened or damaged, which then leads to typical symptoms such as inflammation, pain and stiffness. Since approximately 60% of joint cartilage is made from water, it is critical that we keep hydrated if the cartilage is damaged, otherwise, our production of synovial fluid will be reduced and we increase our risk of friction pain and cartilage deterioration.

    How can water reduce joint pain?

    Now that we have an understanding of how important water is in keeping the joints lubricated, it is worth examining how water can work to reduce specific types of joint pain, ranging from osteoarthritis to gout.

    This is not to say that simply drinking more fluids will cause all your symptoms to diminish, but it will almost certainly help to improve the health of your joints and may work to lessen some of the pain you are feeling.

    Rheumatoid arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune illness where the immune system starts to attack the tissues surrounding the joints. This condition is usually episodic in nature, characterised by painful flare-ups and periods where symptoms are diminished. It normally presents itself in the smaller joints such as the fingers or toes and can be exacerbated by dehydration.

    Certain symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as diarrhoea or vomiting, can predispose the joints to desiccation. Even some of the medicines prescribed by doctors can inhibit water from reaching the joints. On top of this, the likes of aspirin can even confuse our ability to perceive thirst.

    This is why it is critical that we continue to drink water as it can stimulate our production of synovial fluid, reduce inflammation around the joint and encourage the growth of new cells in the cartilage tissues. Water can also alleviate other unpleasant rheumatoid symptoms such as constipation or dizziness.

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    This is what we would refer to as 'wear and tear' arthritis. One of the most common causes of joint pain, osteoarthritis, unlike rheumatoid arthritis, usually appears in the larger joints of the hips and knees making it one of the more debilitating joint conditions.

    Osteoarthritis usually occurs due to cartilage in the joints becoming worn or defective. There is no definitive cause for the condition, but the likelihood of sustaining it can be increased by our genes, age and lifestyle habits such as obesity. In these cases, the sufferer is often advised to exercise and lose weight in order to relieve the pressure on the joint and reduce friction.

    Drinking plenty of water can aid this weight-loss process by increasing our blood circulation during a workout and helping to inspire the formation of stronger tissue cells in the affected areas of cartilage.


    Gout is usually triggered by high levels of uric acid in the bloodstream. When the body is unable to excrete this acid, it can crystallise around the joints, weakening the connective tissue. This influx of uric acid is commonly caused by a diet rich in purines which are found in certain foods such as meat, fish and some alcoholic beverages. If there is too much of this acid present in our bodies, it will not be dissolved into our bloodstream and will struggle to pass through our kidneys.

    Dehydration can exacerbate this process by further impairing the function of our kidneys and their ability to flush out uric acid, which can stimulate an episode of gout.

    Joint injury

    Joint injuries can arise from many different circumstances, from sporting accidents to bursitis. Pain is usually triggered by a violent impact, repetitive movement or inflammation. In the case of bursitis, the bursa, a fluid sac that cushions the tendons and ones, becomes swollen over time, making it difficult to move the affected joint.

    Sometimes minor surgery may be the only solution to the issue, but drinking plenty of water can reduce inflammation, support circulation and support the immune system, enabling it to produce the necessary chemicals to promote a quick recovery.

    Top tip! How to up your water intake

    • Add fruit and herbs to your drink
    • Keep a bottle with you at all times
    • Swap fruit juice for diluting juice or plain water
    • Eat more fruit and vegetables with a high water intake

    Check out more tips here!

    What else helps joint pain?

    It is important to remember that drinking water alone will not cure your joint pain symptoms and, in some cases, surgery or conventional medicine will be necessary.

    However, if you want to try a natural solution to help ease your joint pain, then it might be worthwhile checking out some of our herbal remedies such as Devil's claw . Devil's claw is a natural remedy made from extracts of the Devil's claw plant found in the Kalahari. It can be taken by anyone over the age of 18 to relieve mild symptoms of joint pain, rheumatism and backache.

    Originally published 19 September 2016 (updated 6 January 2021)

    Does drinking water help with joint pain?
    Hydration is vital for flushing toxins out of your body, which can help fight inflammation. Adequate water intake can help keep your joints well lubricated and prevent gout attacks. more
    Which is better to drink tap water or bottled water?
    Overall, both tap and bottled water are considered good ways to hydrate. However, tap water is generally a better option, as it's just as safe as bottled water but costs considerably less and has a much lower environmental impact. Plus, with a reusable water bottle, tap water can be just as convenient as bottled. more
    Can I drink water after gargling salt water?
    Rinse your mouth with tap or drinking water after your salt water gargle. Repeat the entire process two to three times a day, as needed. Remember not to swallow the salt-water. more
    Should I drink hot water or cold water in fever?
    Drinking cold water lowers the body temperature and takes a fever down. Staying hydrated at any time is important, but when the body is in distress, using the cold water helps tremendously. Adding a squeeze of lemon and a little bit of sea salt during a fever can replace electrolytes that may have been lost. more
    Why do I feel pain in my teeth when I drink cold water?
    That's because, over time, your protective layer of tooth enamel can wear down, exposing the soft, inner part of your tooth called dentin, where the nerves live. Certain triggers—including cold foods, drinks, or even a burst of air—can aggravate the nerves, causing a short, sharp pain, also known as tooth sensitivity. more
    Is spring water the best water to drink?
    Without a doubt, spring water is the winner. It is considered the best water to drink, providing vital nutrients as it moves through the body. This is, of course, spring water that is bottled at the source and proven to be actual living spring water. more
    What drink is good for joint pain?
    Tea is one of the best beverages for arthritis patients due to its many health benefits. Green, black and white teas are all rich in anti-inflammatory compounds like polyphenols. Green tea is generally viewed as the most beneficial because of its active ingredient “epigallocatechin-3-gallate” or EGCG. more
    Can you drink water from hot water heater?
    Like it or not, hot water from the water heater is not safe. Although the operation takes longer to complete, obtain the hot water for drinking or cooking from the cold water tap and heat it to the desired temperature. Provide fresh and cold water from the pipe. more
    Should dogs drink tap water or bottled water?
    Bottled water is generally perfectly safe for dogs. Remember that your dog has a different bodily function from you, and the amount of chemical additives in tap water may be too much for your pooch's smaller system. The taps may also be riddled with mold and mildew, which can cause stomach upset for Fido. more
    Can you drink lemon water while water fasting?
    This is a fairly strict pattern of fasting in which no food or drink is consumed during the day. Therefore, lemon water isn't permitted during the fasting period. more
    Should I drink water after salt water flush?
    After the cleanse, make sure to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you feel like the salt water flush isn't working, try massaging your stomach and laying on your side for 30 minutes. more


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