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Can Drinking Water Help with Chronic Pain?

Published on Mar 23, 2023 | 1:16 PM

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At least one in five Americans suffer from chronic pain, making day-to-day life far more difficult. One way to relieve some of that pain is to stay regularly hydrated and drink the water you need daily. While the benefits of doing so depend on the source of the pain, it goes without question that staying hydrated can help the body manage pain. 

The importance of drinking water

Staying hydrated and regularly drinking water is vital for maintaining overall health and well-being. Water is essential for numerous bodily functions, including regulating body temperature, aiding digestion, transporting nutrients, and flushing out toxins. Proper hydration supports optimal organ function, promotes healthy skin, and helps prevent issues like kidney stones and urinary tract infections. Additionally, staying hydrated can improve cognitive function, boost energy levels, and enhance athletic performance. When it comes to chronic pain, the benefits of staying hydrated largely boost your body's overall ability to manage and reduce it. 

What causes chronic pain?

According to John Hopkins, many causes of chronic pain are not known at the time of writing. The CDC estimated 20.6% of American adults suffer from chronic pain resulting from an injury, arthritis, cancer, an illness, or an unknown origin. It is further estimated that 8% of adults in the United States deal with high-impact chronic pain. 

High-impact chronic pain is defined as a patient feeling the condition for over three months and being restricted from regular activities like chores, physical labor, traveling, and more. According to ScienceDirect, those with high-impact chronic pain typically experience severe pain that produces cognitive impairments and mental anguish. 

Other chronic conditions alleviated by hydration

  • Asthma: Drinking water can help alleviate the symptoms of asthma by hydrating the lungs and reducing inflammation in the airways.
  • Kidney stones: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent the formation of kidney stones by flushing out the minerals and other substances that can accumulate in the kidneys and form stones.
  • Constipation: Drinking water can help soften stools and make them easier to pass, which can alleviate constipation.
  • Migraines: Dehydration can trigger migraines, so staying hydrated by drinking water may help prevent or alleviate them.
  • Skin conditions: Drinking water can help improve skin hydration and reduce the appearance of dry, flaky skin associated with conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
  • Urinary tract infections: Drinking water can help prevent urinary tract infections by flushing out bacteria that cause the infection.

Tips for Staying Hydrated with Chronic Conditions

  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times: Having a water bottle with you at all times makes it easier to stay hydrated throughout the day. Choose a water bottle that is easy to carry and refill.
  • Set reminders to drink water: If you have trouble remembering to drink water, set reminders on your phone or computer to drink water at regular intervals.
  • Flavor your water: If you find plain water boring, try flavoring it with lemon, cucumber, or mint. This can make it more enjoyable to drink and encourage you to drink more.
  • Eat water-rich foods: Eating water-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables can help you stay hydrated. Some examples of water-rich foods include watermelon, cucumbers, celery, and strawberries.
  • Monitor your fluid intake: Keep track of how much fluid you are consuming throughout the day. This can help you make sure you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
  • Consult your healthcare professional: If you have a chronic condition that affects your fluid balance, such as kidney disease or heart failure, talk to your healthcare professional about how much fluid you should be drinking each day.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration, so it's best to limit your intake of these drinks or avoid them altogether.

Remember, staying hydrated is essential for your health, and it's especially important if you have a chronic condition. By following these tips, you can help ensure you are getting enough fluids to stay healthy and manage your condition.

Source:

  1. “Good hydration linked to healthy aging | NHLBI, NIH.” NHLBI, 2 January 2023, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/news/2023/good-hydration-linked-healthy-aging.
  2. Carteron, Nancy. “Dehydration and Rheumatoid Arthritis: What's the Connection?” Healthline, 9 June 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/rheumatoid-arthritis/dehydration-and-rheumatoid-arthritis#dehydration-and-arthritis.
  3. “Chronic Pain.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chronic-pain.
  4. Dahlhamer, James M. “Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain Among ...” CDC, 14 September 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6736a2.htm.
  5. Pitcher, Mark H., et al. “Prevalence and Profile of High-Impact Chronic Pain in the United States.” ScienceDirect, Journal of Pain, 06 07 2018, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1526590018303584.
  6. Dmitrieva, Natalia I., et al. “The role of water intake in the severity of pain and menstrual distress among females suffering from primary dysmenorrhea: a semi-experimental study.” NCBI, 28 January 2021, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7845092/.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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