Can Alcohol Cause Muscle and Joint Pain

By Sophia Monroe Updated 3/2/2021

can alcohol cause muscle joint pain

Studies have shown that moderate drinking of alcohol can have some health benefits, at least according to Medical Daily’s Sabrina Bachai. For instance, it’s been found that it can reduce the risk of some heart problems. However, heavy drinking can have some serious health repercussions.

Apart from health-related issues, alcohol has been associated with some social and economic problems. Some alcoholics will neglect family responsibilities, work, and misuse the available financial resources not forgetting the effects it will bring to friends and the communities they interact with. In this piece, well delve deeper into the effects of alcohol on the most important parts that constitute our body structure, muscles, and joints.

The body is made up of four types of movable joints, namely, gliding joints, interphalangeal joints (found in the fingers and toes), pivot joint (the atlantoaxial joints that are between the axis and the atlas- neck), and the ball and socket joints. These are the links between all the bones in the body.

With this in mind, there are 360 joints in a fully grown human being. These are then joined by cartilages, tendons, and ligaments that connect to the muscles.

But does alcohol consumption have anything to do with muscle and joint pain? To rephrase that, can alcohol cause muscle and joint pain? With the support of some of the pointers below, the answer is a big capital yes. Find out why and how below.

Alcoholic Neuropathy

As a matter of fact, a 2012 publication by Vasanthi HR, India’s Sri Ramachandra University points out that according to many epidemiologic studies, alcohol consumption tends to lower the risk of cognitive decline. However, further research has suggested that heavy drinking can cause a number of health problems, one of them being alcoholic neuropathy, which manifests as pains and tingles in the limbs.

Too much alcohol is known to damage the peripheral nerves that are so important in transmitting information and signals between the brain, spinal cord and the rest of the body.

Even though the exact mechanism is not fully understood, according to a PMC publication by Dr. Kanwaljit Chopra Ph.D., of Panjab University back in 2011, too much alcohol alters the levels of vitamin E, B6, B12, thiamine, and foliate. These vitamins are so vital for the proper functions of the nerves. Some symptoms include prickly sensations to the limbs, numbness, and muscular pains, spasms, and cramps.

1. Gout

Gout is a condition that can occur even without the exposure to alcohol. It can be caused by hereditary factors, diet, and even environmental factors. However, alcohol has large amounts of purine and uric content, which play a primary role in the development of gout. Too much of alcohol also dehydrates the user, making it hard for the kidneys to eliminate purine and uric acid from the body. This increases your risk of developing gout or just making it worse.

Gout is characterized by severe inflammation of the joints and severe muscle pain around the affected areas. In some instances, gout has been linked to kidney failure.

This means that alcohol can indeed cause muscle and joint pain.

2. Chronic Alcoholic Myopathy

This is a condition that has links to alcohol abuse, which eventually causes muscle wasting due to the body’s inefficiency in absorbing the proper nutrients fully. This means that the proteins in the muscles become the alternative sources of energy. The acetic acid, a product that comes after alcohol has been broken down, interferes with the metabolism of glucose, the raw material required for muscle energy production.

Symptoms include muscle aches and weak joints, among others.

This is the reason why it’s advisable to consume a glass of water in between drinks, which can help break down the toxic byproducts of alcohol that may be formed in your body.

3. Sore Muscles

This is as a result of losing balance and stability after heavy drinking. This lack of muscle coordination may cause you to overwork the muscles.

Your muscles may sometimes feel sore and painful the following day. This can also be as a result of the interference of glucose levels that may cause the muscles to feel extremely tired and sore.

4. Alcoholic Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This is one of the rarest heart diseases, which is more prevalent among young adults who are heavy consumers of alcohol. It is a condition in which the heart muscles swell, especially one of the ventricle, making the heart weaker. As a result, the heart becomes inefficient in pumping blood to and from the various parts of the body. Some of the symptoms of Alcoholic DCM may include water retention (swollen limbs, abdomen, liver, and lungs).

Heart palpitations and pains are also common in DCM, and may with time advance to heart failure or heart attack. The kidneys also become inefficient in getting rid of water from the body. There are also chest symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pains, panting, coughing, and general body fatigue.

This fatigability, persistent coughs, shortness of breath and other symptoms more or less influence pain in the muscles and sometimes even joint pain. It is the toxic byproducts and metabolites of alcohol that trigger the onset of Alcoholic DCM, even though the mechanisms aren’t fully understood.

The Effects of Alcohol on Pre-Existing Bone and Muscular Conditions

  • Arthritis: Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints and according to most sources, it has no links to alcohol. However, alcohol can trigger and aggravate arthritis symptoms. Most people with arthritis are advised to stay off alcoholic drinks. Alcohol is also known to interfere with normal sleep patterns, which can cause acute pain and joint inflammation, especially in arthritis patients.
  • Medication: People with other bone or joint conditions and are under medication for these conditions are supposed to stay clear of alcohol. This is because alcohol may have a negative interaction with the medication. Alcohol can decrease the effectiveness of such medications and cause more harm.

How to Detox After Heavy Drinking

Get Rid of the Alcohol in Your Home: This may sound so lame but it works for some people, especially the ones who can’t control the urge to drink. It’s the first critical step when you want to detox. Especially when you’ve decided to quit, the withdrawal symptoms will cause you to crave for alcohol and the nearest bottle of wine will be your drawback.

Drink Plenty of Water: As we all know, water is the best solvent and it works well as a detoxifier. Drinking a lot of water will help drain most of the alcohol content off of your system. It’s also good for your kidneys as well. Moreover, alcohol is also dehydrating and drinking plenty of water will replenish and restore water to your tissues.

Embark On a Balanced Diet: Alcohol drinking can lead to the loss of appetite. However, starting with a balanced diet will help restore your body’s immunity to help some of the ailments that may be as a result of heavy drinking.

Hit the Gym: Exercising will not only help you regain your strength, it will also fill the gap that was previously occupied by drinking. It’s important that you focus on your schedule and fill up all the loopholes that can lead to ‘backsliding.’

Get Help:Last but not least, you will want to get social and professional help if you completely can’t help yourself. There are supports groups that can help anyone recover from years of drinking. Get involved with such groups and feel free to participate in the activities. If it feels weird and uncomfortable, involve a friend or a family member during this process. This can be a great way to fight withdrawal syndromes.

In addition to helping you prevent or reduce muscle and joint pain, reducing your alcoholic intake or keeping it low will clearly have numerous benefits. This is not only in terms of your health but also your social life and relationships.

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