Does Drinking Water Help Arthritis?

Filling a plastic free reusable water bottle in kitchen sink.

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Water provides a wide range of health benefits, but can it also help if you have joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or gout? The importance of maintaining hydration is supported by research, but there is limited information related to how your hydration status specifically affects your arthritis symptoms. So how does hydration impact arthritis?

Benefits of Drinking Water for Arthritis

Water makes up about 60% of the total body weight for adults.

It helps maintain:

  • Fluid balance
  • Energy level
  • Digestive health
  • Waste removal
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Movement

These all tie into how it can benefit you if you have arthritis.

How Much Water Should You Drink for Arthritis?

The general recommendation is to drink around six to eight 8-ounce (total 64 ounces or 2 liters) glasses of water a day. The amount you need is influenced by the weather, your activity level, medications, and diet. While this amount is generally recommended, you should check with your healthcare provider first before making any changes—some health conditions, such as kidney disease or heart failure, can impair your ability to physically tolerate this amount of water.

Production of Synovial Fluid

Synovial fluid lubricates, cushions, and protects the joints. Research shows that water is a necessary component of synovial fluid production, which is needed so that your joints can move properly and smoothly. A deficiency of synovial fluid can lead to damage and inflammation of the joints.

Encourages the Growth of Cartilage Tissue

About 80% of cartilage tissue is composed of water. The movement of water through the tissue transports nutrients between cells. This helps maintain healthy cartilage.

Flushes Toxins and Waste From the Body

Most waste products produced by the body's natural metabolic functions are processed through the liver and the kidneys to be removed from your body in the form of urine. Waste products and toxins are moved out of the body with the aid of water. A deficiency in your body's removal of waste products can lead to inflammation.

And, if you have gout, dehydration can contribute to the accumulation of substances like uric acid —which can lead to gout symptoms and gout flares.

Reduces Inflammation

Water helps reduce inflammation by maintaining your fluid balance. Research suggests that dehydration can trigger inflammation.

Staying hydrated also helps to reduce inflammation by preventing joint friction due to inadequate synovial fluid. Friction increases inflammation, so it is important that your joints don't become dehydrated.

Aids in Weight Loss

Research shows that drinking adequate water helps maintain a healthy weight by supporting digestive health, removing wastes, and reducing excess calorie intake. This is especially true if you are replacing a sugar-sweetened beverage with water.

Excess weight can exacerbate symptoms of arthritis, so trying to stay at your ideal weight can be beneficial if you have arthritis.

Decreases Stress

Dehydration is associated with an increase in cortisol, your stress hormone. Cortisol produces the “flight-or-fight” response, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure—and leaving you feeling more stressed.

While drinking more water won’t affect any of the stressors in your life, if you have been mildly dehydrated, drinking more water may help reduce excess effects of your stress hormones.

Can Dehydration Make Arthritis Worse?

Because of the many benefits that water intake has on your body, dehydration could potentially make arthritis worse.

Can You Drink Too Much Water?

Yes, it is possible to drink too much water and cause an imbalance in your electrolytes. Excessive water intake can lower the levels of sodium in your blood, resulting in hyponatremia. This can cause symptoms such as head pain, muscle spasms, nausea, and fatigue.

Research shows that healthy kidneys are only able to excrete 800-1,000 milliliters (ml) of water per hour (27 to 33 ounces). It is important to spread your water intake throughout the day to avoid overhydrating.

Tips to Increase Your Water Intake

By making simple changes you can start to increase your water intake. Try these tips to boost your hydration:

  • Carry a water bottle with you
  • Add fruit, like limes or lemons, to add flavor to your water
  • Set reminders to help you drink water
  • Try apps or tally your water intake on a piece of paper 
  • Commit to replacing at least one calorie containing beverage with water each day until it becomes a habit

A Word From Verywell

There is limited research assessing water's direct impact on arthritis, but your hydration status can affect your joint health in a number of different ways.

Staying adequately hydrated and reducing inflammation could help with preventing and managing arthritis and gout flares. Aim for about eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day and spread your fluid intake throughout the day.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Ashley Braun, MPH, RD
Ashley Braun, MPH, RD, is a registered dietitian and public health professional with over 5 years of experience educating people on health-related topics using evidence-based information. Her experience includes educating on a wide range of conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, HIV, neurological conditions, and more.