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Lower back pain that can range in duration and severity has been occasionally reported as a problem occurring when drinking alcohol. There's no definitive conclusion if drinking alcohol can cause lower back pain, although some studies found a link between the two. The SteadyHealth members started a discussion wondering the same.

Could it be alcohol that causes lower back pain? 

The pain when drinking alcohol can be inconsistent, meaning there may be some occasions where people may drink and they won't experience any pain. But for many, pain would be present after a weekend of heavy drinking or after drinking for long periods.

I get back pain ONLY after a weekend of heavy drinking. 

The other times, one glass of alcohol may be enough to induce the pain. But generally, the pain usually becomes worse and more persistent with time. 

The first link between lower back pain and alcohol consumption indicated in the discussion was the one between the alcohol and muscular system. Alcohol usually acts as a muscle relaxant in some people, however, it could also cause muscle spasms in others and these muscle spasms could be causing the pain. Lower back pain when drinking alcohol could be also related to dehydration of the kidneys.

 

Alcohol consumption is known to cause flatulence (gas buildup), diarrhea, and constipation in some people which both can be associated with lower back pain particularly drinks saturated with CO2 such as beer. Beer is among other alcoholic beverages usually named as the main culprit for lower back pain. In most people, 1 or 2 pints of normal strength beer could cause the pain.

I don't drink often anymore, but it usually happens when I drink beer. 

Many people reported lower back pain with other drinks too.

my last attack was after a glass of wine(0.2). 

I just got these pains today after about 3 days of heavy drinking cheap vodka. 

Generally, for people with back pain, alcohol also carries a huge risk of increasing the pain, that is usually caused by conditions like degenerative disc disease, facet disease, herniated discs, etc. 

Many people who had experienced lower back pain after drinking alcohol described it as a shooting pain that radiates all over their lower backs or up their middle backs. Sometimes the pain affects the upper back too. A lot of people reported pains in the front of their chest and upper right rib cage along with lower back pain. Sometimes the pain starts elsewhere and then moves to the lower left back. Lower back pain usually affects left side. 

Many reported that lower back pain doesn't last very long, usually for about 10-45 minutes, but it could be very painful and debilitating, meaning that people may have trouble with movements, such as bending or even walking. The other reported that their pain lasted for several hours, sometimes even for 16 hours. In some occasions, this type of lower back pain could last for days and may require medical attention.

Underlying causes of lower back pain

Lower back pain does not necessarily be caused by drinking alcohol. There's often an underlying cause and drinking alcohol can make things worse.

Possible reported causes of lower back pain may include:

  • UTI, kidney and bladder infection
  • gastritis (swelling of the stomach lining)
  • a kidney stone
  • ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction which happens when part of the kidney is blocked, and the flow of urine out of the kidney is slowed or stopped
Sometimes, the alcohol-related pain could indicate more serious condition. Some people reported that they have experienced alcohol-related pain several months before being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. Many people with this symptom had no other symptoms of lymphoma.

Diagnosis of alcohol-related lower back pain

Diagnosis may be complex due to the unknown nature of lower back pain. The doctor may order:

  • an ultrasound to rule out infection, cancer, cysts, inflammation, and other causes
  • blood tests
  • periodic urine checks 
  • renal and gallbladder functioning tests 

What do experts say?

There have been many studies trying to identify alcohol consumption as a cause for lower back pain. They involved hundreds of participants with lower back pain reported. The results showed that 11% of the participants were alcohol abusers. The problem with the study results was that the alcohol consumption did not match the severity of backaches, so the links were dismissed. It is said, however, that alcohol could be contributing to back pain.  Research suggests that pain people experience after drinking alcohol is actually an increased sensitivity to the effects of alcohol. It is rather a pain in the lymph nodes after drinking alcohol, not the lower back.

Pain with drinking alcohol has been associated with Hodgkin lymphoma. About half of people with lymphoma will have enlarged lymph nodes. These nodes are not usually painful to the touch, although they can ache. In some people, the affected lymph nodes can become painful after drinking alcohol, and this seems to be more common in people with Hodgkin lymphoma. Alcoholism may lead to a variety of complications including (but not limited to) liver disorders, cardiovascular problems, bone loss, neurological complications, erectile dysfunction, gastrointestinal problems and increased risk of cancer. Lower back pain can be a symptom with many of these conditions.

Lower back pain can be related to muscle dehydration. All alcoholic beverages cause dehydration. Some studies showed that heavy alcohol drinking dehydrates the muscles and causes them to weaken. In order to break down the alcohol, kidneys have to filter a lot of water. And if it is not available they take it from your muscles. This is also known as alcoholic myopathy (muscle pain) resulting from the body’s response to long-term and/or heavy exposure to alcohol. It can either be acute, after the individual has binged on alcohol or chronic, developing over time with regular, heavy alcohol consumption. It can lead to muscle pain in the lower back.

Fibromyalgia is often culprit to lower back pain rather than alcohol. One of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia is likely to be widespread pain that could be worse in particular areas, such as the back or neck. The pain is likely to be persistent, although it may get better or become more severe at different times. The pain caused by fibromyalgia is usually described as a sharp, stabbing pain, a burning sensation, or an ache.

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Discussion highlights

Location of pain

  • I also get pains in the front of my chest, upper right rib cage and lower back left of my back.
  • Over the years, I've only had the attacks after drinking larger for long periods, sometimes the pain starts somewhere and then moves to the lower left back.
  • It tends to be the lower right back.
  • The pains were as follows: stings in my lower back(left and right), upper left chest and heavy arms(felt like i had not circulation at all).
  • more of an itch or soreness (lower right back above the waist line).

Intensity and duration of pain

  • The pain doesn't last very long but is so painful, it brings me to tears!
  • It can be inconsistent, meaning there may be some occasions where you drink and it doesn't happen.
  • But generally it will become worse and more persistent with time.
  • In my case, the pain eventually became chronic so that I had the pain 24/7 --alcohol or not.
  • The third morning the pain is unbearable and makes it hard to even bend over.

Relief for lower back pain

  • Hope this information help's, are people getting the same sypmtom's as myself, if so the hot bath, or seed bags, round the area with pain.
  • I tried drinking more water the next time I drank and it helped.
  • Hydrate.
  • I found that drinking alot of water/cordial/juice in the day before I started drinking helped so much.
  • Yes, only 10-15 minutes of Yoga it will help tremendously.
  • That episode lasted about a month and was treated with codeine for pain.
  • This nephrologist prescribed me a ace inhibitor blood pressure medicine to regulate the blood flow through my kidneys.
  • she gave me some pain killers and sent me home.
  • She put me on 120 MG of prednisone and upped my blood pressure medicine So I started doing my own research and started looking online to find out why i was still in pain.
  • The doctor gave him medicine for reflux and some pain killers.

Verified Claims & Medical Studies

 

In conclusion

Lower back pain after consuming alcohol is common problem. It could be related to not so serious causes, such as dehydration or muscle cramps. Sometimes, however, lower back pain that occurs after alcohol consumption, even a moderate one, could be a sign of something more serious going on. It could indicate problems with urinary tract and kidneys, fibromyalgia, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is, therefore, important to make an appointment with your doctor if you ever experienced even the slightest pain after drinking alcohol.