Many studies have revealed that some types of alcohol—especially wine—are healthy in moderation and may lower the risk of certain health conditions, including strokes, heart disease, and diabetes. However, when alcohol is consumed in large quantities, it increases the risk for liver and kidney damage, among other health issues. What you might not realize is that drinking alcohol can have a significant impact on neck and back pain in the following ways.
The more alcohol a person drinks, the higher his or her tolerance to pain tends to be. When responsiveness to the body’s natural pain signals is reduced, there’s a higher chance of sustaining significant damage to the tendons, muscles, joints, and discs that support the spine. Consuming alcohol in excess can also lower a person’s inhibitions, which may lead to lifting heavy objects, making abnormal movements, and engaging in other activities that might aggravate existing neck or back pain.
Causes Nerve Damage
According to research on spinal conditions, heavy drinking increases the risk of alcoholic neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage associated with muscle weakness and a “pins and needles” sensation. Alcohol is toxic to nerve cells, and it can affect the nerves surrounding the structures in the back and neck. Here are some of the ways heavy alcohol consumption can impact neck and back pain:
Relaxes the core muscles
If you’re living with neck or back issues, you might think relaxing the core muscles is a positive thing. However, relaxed muscles lead to less support in the back and neck, which can actually increase the discomfort you’re experiencing.
People who excessively drink alcohol are often more susceptible to depression, which can slow recovery, even if the back or neck pain is minor.
Leads to weight gain
Drinking a large amount of beer and other alcoholic beverages tends to cause weight gain, especially around the abdomen. As a result, people who consume the extra calories in beer end up placing unnecessary pressure on the spine.
If you only ever have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer every now and then, you shouldn’t be too concerned about your drinking habits affecting back or neck pain. However, chronic alcohol consumption or binge drinking is another story. No matter your habits, if you have lingering back or neck pain, make sure to get it evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.
Reach out to The Spine Institute today if you’d like to have your current back or neck pain evaluated. We serve the Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and greater Los Angeles areas. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person consultation with a professional and experienced Santa Monica spine surgeon.