Although we use the term “dehydration” or speak of being “dehydrated” rather than underhydrated or the state of underhydration, the latter is considered technically correct.
While it is not a strict usage, one way of thinking about the terms is that dehydration is an acute lack of water in one’s body, while underhydration can be seen as a chronic or habitual state of not enough water.
However, regardless of whether it is referred to as dehydration or underhydration, it is a condition that is unhealthy and can lead to a variety of issues such as exacerbating any existing chronic muscle and joint pain, slowing the rate of healing, and increasing the chances of injury.
Why Water Matters – The Effects of Underhydration and Dehydration
While it is a widely understood fact that our bodies must have water to function, what is not so well known is how a lack of sufficient water, or hydration, impacts the body.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for example,
“Dehydration negatively affects muscle performance by impeding thermal regulation, altering water movement across cell membranes, and interfering with actin-myosin cross-bridge formation.”
And another source has noted that underhydration has been noted as a contributor of joint pain. Considering that close to 70 to 80 percent of our joint cartilage is made of water, it is not surprising that a lack of hydration is associated with joint pain.
In addition, underhydration can lead to lower back pain.
Back pain is one of the common conditions suffered by people across the spectrum of fitness and age. However, what many are not aware of is that chronic underhydration can make back and spine pain worse.
The human spine is composed of 24 vertebrae, specialized bones that protect the spinal cord. In between each of the vertebrae, however, there are also discs. Known as intervertebral discs, these structures are made up of a soft-jelly like substance and are composed largely of water.
These discs are crucial components that act as a cushion for the spine and allow for our body’s movements to be much smoother and more comfortable. Being underhydrated can lead to these discs not being able to cushion our movements like they should. The result can be the root cause of back pain in the lower, mid, upper back and neck.
In addition, the same principle can affect joints in the body.
When fluid is not sufficient, then there is less lubrication in the joints, which can lead to joint pain. However, while a lack of hydration can contribute to joint pain, it might not be the root cause of the pain.
When Dehydration Adds to Existing Muscle and Joint Pain Issues
Strictly speaking, a chronic lack of sufficient hydration can cause muscle pain and, eventually, even joint and spine pain. However, more often than not, there is a pre-existing issue that has already been causing intermittent pain or discomfort that can become aggravated or elevated by a lack of hydration.
A first step is increasing your water intake to see how the pain is affected. Bear in mind though, that simply drinking a few glasses of water isn’t enough. You will need to regularly and consistently increase your overall water intake each day for a period of time to experience sufficient hydration.
Also, while hydration may not completely relieve your joint pain, it can both help to ease your symptoms and benefit your overall health as well.
Once you feel that your body has been sufficiently and consistently hydrated for a few weeks or so, you can then gain a clearer assessment of the extent and degree of chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain you’re experiencing.
Although proper hydration is critical and essential, finding lasting relief from muscle or joint pain will likely require something more. The good news is that Pain and Performance Solutions is able to help you identify and treat the pain effectively.
You Can Find Relief from Chronic Muscle Pain
Do you find yourself suffering from recurring or chronic muscle pain? If you’re sufficiently hydrated and haven’t experienced an obvious injury or serious muscle strain, this can be mystifying as well as aggravating.
Oftentimes muscle pain can be caused by issues we are not even aware of. And that when the help of professionals like Pain and Performance Solutions can be essential.
If you are experiencing ongoing pain with no clear cause, we invite you to call us for an appointment. During your initial phone consultation and subsequent assessment we will learn all we can about your present pain and condition, along with any history of discomfort, as well as your current level of physical activity and your lifestyle choices.
Understanding where and how your pain started is when treating and relieving your pain begins.
A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Active Release Techniques®, or ART®, for example can be used for achieving joint pain relief.
Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery.
Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.