The Link Between Dehydration and Pain

The Link Between Dehydration and Pain

About 60% of the adult human body is made up of water. When that water runs low, your body lets you know. Many times this will come in the form of pain. But many people don’t make the connection that the pain is being caused by a form of dehydration. Because water and the water in our cells play such a critical role in our body’s effective functioning, it is no surprise that nearly every organ in our bodies needs to be properly hydrated to function properly.

Many people, even some medical professionals, confuse severe dehydration with other health issues. Patients may then be prescribed unnecessary drugs or treatment, when simply optimizing cellular hydration would resolve the problems without the potential side effects.

Symptoms of dehydration include: chapped lips, dry skin, constipation, headaches and chronic pains such as arthritis, heartburn, back pain and migraines. Stiffness or soreness can also be a common clinical complaint caused by dehydration. One way to tell if your body is dehydrated is to take a look at the color of your urine. A hydrated body will produce a light yellow, almost clear color urine, whereas a dehydrated body will produce a dark yellow or orange color urine. You can also check for dehydration by conducting a simple skin test by gently pinching the skin at the back of your wrist or arm. Once you release the skin, if it goes back quickly to its original state, you are well hydrated. If it stays pinched for more than a few seconds, it means you are dehydrated. This is because the skin cells are sticking to each other, due to lack of fluids.

The link between dehydration and pain may seem abstract at first. But when we look at the makeup of the body, the connection becomes more obvious. Connective tissue-such as tendons, ligaments and collagen fibers houses the bulk of the body’s water. As we lose water from connective tissues due to aging, poor diet and lifestyle choices, we are prone to more physical injuries, which lead to inflammation. Pain can be caused by dehydration because the inflammation accumulates in order to repair the damage.
Let’s take the joints for example. Water makes up the majority of the lubricant in your joints; and this water helps flush toxins from the joints. But when your body becomes dehydrated, as a precaution, it begins to “steal” water from other areas of the body, including your joints. This loss of water in the joints allows toxins to linger, leading to pain and inflammation.

The bottom line is that optimal hydration levels are key to a healthy body. However, it is not just about the water you drink, it’s about the water your body keeps. From my own scientific research, and validated by numerous other studies, creating healthy, water-tight cells that will help to keep hydration levels in your body stable is an overarching key to preventing dehydration, and ultimately dehydration-related pain.

The most effective way to help your cells remain water-tight is through an Inclusive Health approach. By focusing on topical care that protects the skin, the body’s first layer of defense, you are helping the body shield itself from damaging free radicals in our environment. Also by focusing internally, on eating healthy water-rich foods, you are not only getting extra hydration into the body, but you are providing your body with optimal nutrients to build stronger, healthier cells as well. And finally, reducing cell-damaging stress will help your cells stay healthy and strong.

Water is a key ingredient to making our bodies function properly. If you want to avoid chronic pain and live a healthy, hydrated life, focus on “eating” your water and building your cellular health.

How are you keeping hydrated? Tell us in the comments.

Article by Howard Murad, M.D., FAAD, a world renowned skincare expert and founder of the Inclusive Health movement.


  1. Ben Gottschalk

    I am 61 years old. I began drinking two 16 ounce glasses of glasses of water in the morning and I attempt to drink 5-6 16 ounce glasses of water per day for the last three months. I find that I have more energy and that the various aches and pains in my feet, knees and back have decreased significantly.

  2. Helen Williamson

    I have noticed that if I am dehydrated I have severe colon pain, cramps in my feet and heart palpitations.. It took me years to make the connection. Can you explain what is going on with that?

  3. Thomas Ochoa

    I fell asleep last night and when I awoke this morning, I was in severe pain. I drank about 3 ounces of water and the joint pain in my hips, and feet went away in 15 minutes. I have had joint pain before, but never this severe. I will keep my water level higher.

  4. Genia

    I’m 68 years old. I’ve been experiencing a strange pain in my lower back, at night I couldn’t get comfortable, in the day, it was OK walking about, but getting up from a chair, I’d feel so stiff and be hobbling about like an old lady (!) until I got mobile again. I started drinking more water, maybe about 3 litres over the course of a day….and the effect was amazing, I’m back to normal, no more pain at night, no more hobbling.
    Wonderful to have discovered such a simple solution.

  5. Maria Freeland

    I have had tendenitis in my Ankle Knee and now my wrist/ hand my thumb is very swollen around the pad area. it is very painful. I have just read about dehydration causing issues, so I will address this but how much water should you be having a day I also understand about water foods thanks to your article.

Leave a Reply