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Drinking alcohol can cause of a lot of health problems like headaches, weight gain and liver damage but is there also a potential link between drinking alcohol and the development of lower back pain. Read more to find out if there really is a link.

After you open a few cold ones, you may notice that after a night of drinking, you can wake up with not only a pretty intense hang-over headache but you may even feel pain and tenderness in your back. Everyone knows that the more you drink, the more likely you will get this type of hangover but is there this same link when it comes to back pain? Here, we will explore some of the potential reasons why you may have back pain after drinking alcohol

Does Alcohol Cause Back Pain Directly? 

Before we get into a list of potential diseases that you may be at risk for if you note you have back pain after drinking alcohol, it would be wise to determine if there are medical studies showing a link between alcohol consumption and increased incidence of reported back pain. Numerous reviews attempted to investigate to see if there was a direct trend in the relationship between the two seemingly independent events. At the conclusion of their investigations, it was determined that there is not a statistically significant link between drinking alcohol and the development of low back pain [1]. Some studies did show that chronic users of alcohol did have more risk of lower back pain but sample sizes were insufficiently small to draw definite conclusions. This will not derail our investigation, however, because alcohol may still be able to cause back pain indirectly. 

Alcoholic Neuropathy 

When looking at potential links between alcohol and indirect reasons you may have back pain, one of the first sicknesses to consider would be alcoholic neuropathy. This is a condition marked by chronic alcoholism where large amounts of alcohol consumed over a long period of time gradually damage nerves throughout the body, including the spinal cord. Patients with this conditions will experience significant amounts of back pain not only due to the damaged nerves but also do the nutritional status of the patient. Insufficient levels of vitamins and electrolytes can lead to further cramping and dull aching pain. [2] Stopping alcohol consumption may not be enough for this disease because the damage is irreparable. Regulate the amount you drink before the problem gets out of hand. 

Kidney Stones 

Another potential cause of back pain linked with alcohol consumption could be in the form of kidney stones. These pesky precipitates are able to form during times of low water status. Alcohol has an effect on the ADHD channel to cause you to urinate more when you are drinking. This can potentially lead to kidney stone formation on its own but numerous other investigations have also shown that drinking fruit juices can also predispose to kidney stone formation during times of drinking. When drinking hard liquors like vodka or whiskey, some users of this type of alcohol may turn to sodas or fruit juices to take the edge off of the drink and make them smoother. These studies show that the more juices you drink, the more likely you will develop kidney stones and potentially very severe back pain. [3]

Gout 

Another disease to consider when you have back pain after drinking alcohol could be due to gout. Gout occurs when you have crystal deposits form in joints. Most of the time, this will be your toes, knees or wrists but your back is another location that these crystals can form in. Gout is generally exacerbated by the food choices we make and alcohol consumption so if you have a history of gout, you may find yourself having severe back pain as a result. [4]

Degenerative Disc Diseases 

Not only can alcohol indirectly cause conditions that can lead to back pain, it can also worsen diseases patients already may be suffering from. When patients have problems like kyphosis, degenerative disc disease or vertebrae damage due to osteoporosis, alcohol consumption can boost the damaging of the nerve fibers that are exposed. This is essentially the same mechanism of what occurred during alcoholic neuropathy. As patients age, they are more inclined to have these spinal cord disorders and they quite easily could be self-medicating with alcohol to keep their pain management. This is the medical equivalence of trying to put out a bonfire with gasoline. [5]

Alcohol Withdrawal 

I know what you are thinking; it could be just a simple choice: do not drink alcohol anymore and these patients will find a relief from their back pain. Unfortunately, nothing in medicine could be that simple. Studies indicate that patients that have a dependence to alcohol are more likely to suffer from chronic pain syndromes and also experience hyperalgesia after stopping alcohol use [6]. This means that patients are even more sensitive to pain after quitting alcohol. Joints that are highly involved in physiological movements like your knees and lower back are even more prone to becoming bothersome in these types of patients. [7]

Current recommendations state that males should drink no more than 14 beers worth of alcohol (or any other similar drink) per week while females should drink no more than 7 beers per week if they are under the age of 65. Once a patient reaches retirement age, their liver should also have a holiday and drinking recommendations fall to half (7 beers per week in males and 4 beers per week for females). If you find yourself above this threshold, you need to manage your alcohol consumption or you're risking of becoming dependent on alcohol. 

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