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Can Alcohol Consumption Cause Joint Pain?

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
Q: So I’ve never been much of a drinker. I think because my reaction to it seems to be much stronger*. A shot for me is like 2 for a normal person. I only had a few drinks, every time I wake up in the middle of the night with severe pain throughout my body top to bottom. I’m not sure if it’s muscle or joint or bone? But the pain is so extreme and horrible that I can’t get back to sleep because every single contraction or movement that feels like there’s a grinding of my bones together. I usually have to soak in a bath tub between 3-5 am just to relieve the pain enough for me to nap in the bathroom. What’s causing this? An allergic reaction? Arthritis? Fibromyalgia? I’m 43 and I work out 4 times a week with a healthy diet.
Expert Answer

Alcohol can cause severe joint pain if you have underlying medical conditions such as gout, osteoarthritis and several other forms of arthritis. Many people have reported pain after consumption of alcohol and some have reported have even reported that the amount of pain they experienced was proportionate to the amount of alcohol they took. This means the larger the amount of alcohol you take the higher your chances of experiencing severe joint pains.

High intake of alcohol increases* the risk of getting gout which causes severe pain in the joints. The pain is commonly felt in the knees and feet. Beer, a form of alcohol contains purine that is usually metabolised into uric acid. When you take large amount of alcohol it increase* the levels of uric acid in the body leading to accumulation of the acid in the joints which crystallise to form tophi. This will eventually lead to gout. For people who already have gout, high amount of alcohol intake can lead to flare ups such as inflammation, soreness and also muscle and joint pains.

Taking alcohol for a long period of time is also known to cause weight gain. The first few bottles of alcohol you take will not affect your weight but after a long period of time taking alcohol you will gain weight without even noticing. Most people are not able to realise the weight gain until when they start to experience joint pains. A lot of weight put pressure on joints which can result to joint pain and inflammation.

People who have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus are not supposed to drink a lot of beer because they have gluten. Taking alcohol can only make their condition worse especially the joint pains.

Patients of fibromyalgia and several other musculoskeletal conditions mostly experience muscle soreness and tenderness. If such people take a lot of alcohol they get dehydrated leading to increased muscle soreness and tenderness which can result to joint pains. Patients of fibromyalgia should also avoid taking alcohol in the evening because alcohol usually affects the quality of their sleep which further worsens the symptoms such as pain and fatigue.

Alcohol also interferes with the effectiveness of some pain medication and exacerbates the side effects of some of the medication. If you take medicine for joint pain you will not be able notice results if you are a regularly take alcohol in large amounts. Some people also due to alcoholism skip their medication, this results to the drugs not being effective and also can lead to frequent flare ups.

A combination of alcohol and non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can result to stomach upset. Acetaminophen is another type of drug that is used to treat* pain. Acetaminophen and alcohol are processed by the same part of liver therefore taking the medicine and alcohol at the same time can result to overworking the organ resulting to the drug not being effective which can lead to flare ups and joint pains.

The narcotic type of pain reliever if taken with alcohol can lead to drowsiness and severe joint pain.
Alcohol in the body also affects the joints indirectly. Most people who drink alcohol are involved in activities such as dancing which can result to joint pains. Some people when drunk sleep for a long period in one position which can also result to joint pains.

Some joint pains can be as a result of standing for a long period of time for example in the bar while taking alcohol. Most people do not know this can also have an effect on their joints leading them to suspect alcohol of what they are experiencing. The joints are usually put under pressure when you stand for long which can result to pains at night.

It is advisable to reduce* the amount of alcohol intake if you have diseases which the attacks can triggered by alcohol. You should also ensure you don’t take much alcohol at night to make you go to sleep while you are deeply intoxicated.