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Why Do My Joints Hurt After Drinking?

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2023
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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Senior holding elbow joint pain with font

The painful truth…

Many people enjoy consuming alcohol for pleasure. They may delight in the taste or the social aspects of drinking. But, for some people, joints of the body may hurt after drinking. So why do my joints hurt after drinking? Read on to learn more!

Let’s get a little background…

Per the CDC, “To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men or 1 drink or less in a day for women, on days when alcohol is consumed.”

Should people with preexisting joint pain drink alcohol?

Red wine contains resveratrol, part of a group of compounds called polyphenols with anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies demonstrate that red wine consumed in moderation is beneficial for people who have arthritis. However, Per News Medical Life Science, “Any small benefits of alcohol that may occur are not sufficient reason for a non-drinker to begin alcohol consumption.” They explain that joint pain may occur due to the following negative effects of alcohol consumption:

  • Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, a harmful reduction in the amount of water in the body. In turn, this may cause a reduction in join lubrication and worsen joint pain.
  • Reduction of nutrient content. A decline of nutrient content in the body can lead to suppression of the immune system and aggravate joint inflammation.
  • Weight gain. Alcohol has calories and sugar which may lead to weight gain and stressed joints. Being overweight may worsen symptoms of arthritis.

Is there a relationship between alcohol and inflammation?

WebMD shares that alcohol and inflammation have a link. While light to moderate amounts of alcohol may lower the level of cytokines that cause inflammation, heavy alcohol use can raise it.

Is alcohol toxic?

Per World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol is essentially toxic to the human body. Misuse is known to damage the brain and nervous system, the heart, the liver, and the pancreas. Not only is it classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, but it also may produce dependency.

Drinking too much alcohol may lead to a myriad of negative medical conditions including alcohol poisoning. It may also up one’s risk of developing a weakened immune system, heart disease, liver problems, and more. Additionally, an increase in fall accidents may occur which can also harm joints and other parts of the body.

Gout & alcohol connection

Folks who drink in excess risk getting gout, a form of arthritis due to the buildup of uric acid. People can also get gout from eating too much food high in purines, a chemical found in foods such as red meat, shellfish, and alcohol. Gout causes intense pain and swelling around the joints. There are numerous other medical conditions that may be associated with drinking such as liver disease, pancreatitis, esophageal cancer, neurological impairment, cardiovascular disease, and more.

In conclusion

The best way to protect joints and keep organs strong is to be active and exercise, eat well and maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking and heavy drinking, and make good lifestyle choices. While moderate drinking may offer some health benefits, the World Health Organization describes alcohol as “a toxic, psychoactive and dependence-producing substance.” Thus, anything beyond moderate drinking can be dangerous. People with preexisting medical diseases or conditions, and those on medications, must heed warning. Additionally, folks who experience joint pain upon drinking should discuss alcohol consumption with their doctor.

More info…

We’ve answered the question, “Why do my joints hurt after drinking?” Next, click here to explore why joints may hurt after working out.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a medical resource. Consult your doctor for medical advice.

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