How Alcohol Affects Neck or Back Pain

Alcohol and Back Pain Connection

Alcohol is a double-edged sword. In moderation, studies show that some forms of alcohol, most notably wine, may reduce the risk of developing conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. When consumed in larger qualities, however, alcohol is associated with numerous health problems including liver and kidney damage. This cautionary warning also extends to neck and back pain – in more ways than you may realize.

Lowering Inhibitions

Due to an increased tolerance to pain, alcohol tends to lessen your responsiveness to the body’s natural pain signals, possibly resulting in substantial damage to muscles, tendons, discs and joints supporting the spine. Excessive alcohol consumption can also lower your inhibitions to the point where you’ll aggravate existing back and neck pain by lifting heavy things or making movements you wouldn’t ordinarily make.

Nerve Damage

Studies on spinal conditions suggest that heavy drinking may result in nerve damage (alcoholic neuropathy), sometimes associated with a “pins-and-needles” feeling and muscle weakness. Since alcohol is toxic to nerve cells, heavy alcohol consumption may affect nerves surrounding structures in the neck and back. Alcohol consumption may also affect back and neck pain by:

  • Relaxing core muscles

    When muscles are relaxed, you get less support to the back and neck area, which can increase pain and discomfort if you already have back and neck issues.

  • Altering your mood

    Depression, typically related to excessive alcohol consumption, can slow the recovery process, even for minor back and neck pains.

  • Extra weight

    Chronic drinking (especially beer) can pack on the pounds due to the extra calories. This extra weight can, in turn, place added pressure on the spine.

Alcohol-related back and neck pain tends to be associated with chronic or binge drinking rather than occasional consumption of a glass of wine with dinner or a few beers. Back or neck pain that lingers, however, should still be evaluated by a doctor sooner rather than later.

For more information about evaluating current neck or back pain, reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. Located in Santa Monica, CA, we proudly serve the local community as well as Beverly Hills and the greater Los Angeles area.  Call us at 310-828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation with one of our professional and experienced Santa Monica spine surgeons or specialists today.