How Are Alcohol and Joint Pain Related?

Alcohol in moderation has few negative effects on the body and can actually have positive effects on the body. Serious health effects can occur with drinking too much or for long periods of time, including heart disease, hypertension, increased risk of stroke, gout, liver disease, etc.

And some may even wonder if alcohol would cause or worsen joint pain. Some do say they may have painful joints after drinking, but research cannot make a conclusion if alcohol is the actual cause. This article will look at the relationship between alcohol and joint pain.

Can Alcohol Cause or Worsen Joint Pain?

Alcohol can affect joint pain if you are at risk of certain types of arthritis. If taken in larger amounts over long periods of time, it can cause different effects on the body that can lead to increased inflammation, nerve pain, and buildup of certain substances that can irritate the joints.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Bones and Joints?

There are a few different ways that alcohol and joint pain may be connected. Alcohol can cause certain reactions in the body in sensitive people, people with arthritis, and people at risk for certain conditions. These include:

1. Gout

Beer and certain types of liquor are high in purines that can lead to increased uric acid levels. If you are at risk for gout, the increased uric acid levels can form uric acid crystals near the joints. This is most common in the great toes, knees, and elbows. Research has not shown wine to cause increased uric acid.

2. Nerve Inflammation

Heavy drinking over long periods of time can lower the immune system response and possibly cause inflammation of the nerves near the joints. This may increase the pain of arthritis if you already suffer from joint pain.

3. Reduced Medication Effects

How are drinking alcohol and joint pain related? Drinking alcohol while taking arthritis medications may decrease their effectiveness and cause issues with your liver. If you are taking disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD's) you are at increased risk of liver disease.

4. Dehydration

Alcohol pulls fluids of the body and is a natural diuretic. Your ligaments that hold your joints together use water to help cushion them from impact. They need a constant supply of fluids to keep them soft. If you drink a lot of alcohol, you may cause your tendons and ligaments to lose too many fluids and not be able to do their job.

Keep in mind that ligaments lose fluids quicker than any other tissues in your body and you will notice dehydration in them first, which can show up as joint pain after drinking excessively.

Factors That Would Affect Joint and Bone Health

Joints can be very sensitive to your lifestyle. While alcohol may affect you if you have arthritis or are predisposed to gout, there are other factors that may cause you joint pain. These are:

1. Obesity

If you are overweight, it can put strain on your joints. If you are suffering from joint pain, it may not be alcohol use but excess pressure. Try walking and lowering your calorie intake to help ease the amount of work your joints have to do.

2. Age Related Joint Pain

As you age, your joints tend to deteriorate and break down. It is very common for people over 65 years of age to have some type of joint pain. If you are over 65 and suffer from joint pain, with your doctor's okay, gentle stretching exercises can help reduce pain and get you moving better.

3. Diet

If you drink alcohol and joint pain is an issue, try reducing the amount you drink. You can also increase your intake of foods with natural anti-inflammatory properties. Try eating a handful of cherries every day, or try eating fish like salmon weekly. Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your joint health.

4. Injuries

If you have ever injured a joint, it can put you at risk for joint pain. Even if your injury heals, the muscles near the joint need to be strengthened to help keep the joint stable. Things like ankle sprains stretch the ligaments and tendons and even after the injury heals, the ligaments need time to go back into their original shape. You can experience joint pain for months to years after an injury. Physical therapy can help teach you exercises to strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and tendons around the injured joint.

5. Inactivity

If you are sitting on a barstool thinking that drinking alcohol and joint pain may be related, it may be just the fact that you are sitting. If you don’t move around and walk, your joints can freeze up and stiffen. Try taking a walk daily to help loosen your joints and keep them moving well.

6. The Weather

Changes in weather can cause joint pain. If it is extremely hot or cold you may feel pain or stiffness in your joints. You may also be able to tell what the weather is going to be by how your joints are feeling. A damp cold weather seems to be the worst offender in most people.

If the weatherman predicts a severe weather change, take steps to protect your joints. Try to stay cool in the extreme heat, and bundle up in colder weather. It may help to do some stretching and warm-up exercises before you go outside.

7. Your Job

If you have a job that makes you perform things over and over, you may begin to suffer from joint pain. This is called repetitive motion injury and can affect your knees, ankles, hips, back, and wrists. You can also suffer injuries in these areas if you play a sport that makes you perform the same functions over and over.

8. Health Conditions

Certain health conditions can cause joint pain, including arthritis, gout, autoimmune diseases, and Lyme disease. If you have a chronic health condition that causes joint pain you need to speak with your doctor about things you can do to manage the pain.

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