Does Alcohol Abuse Cause Joint Pain?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on April 23, 2020

Abusing alcohol can cause damage to the whole body including causing joint pain.

Alcohol Abuse And Joint Pain

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that at least six people die each day from alcohol poisoning caused by drinking a large volume of alcohol in a short period of time.

About 30 percent of the deaths occurred in people who suffered from alcoholism. Because of scary rates like this, many believe the physical side effects of alcohol don’t go past the liver. This organ is mainly responsible for processing the liquid.

However, this is far from the truth. Alcohol abuse does a great deal of damage to the rest of the body as well, including the joints and bones.

Can Alcohol Abuse Worsen Joint Pain?

Those who already have joint pain because of an underlying illness may have joint pain when they drink an excessive amount of alcohol on a regular basis.

For men, this amount is considered to be at least five alcoholic beverages per day. The number drops to four beverages in women because they process alcohol differently than men do.

Strangely enough, drinking in moderation can reduce joint pain. But that means that men can only have up to two beverages a day, and women can only have one.

How Drinking Contributes To Joint And Bone Pain

Joint and bone pain occur from drinking because alcohol causes inflammation when too much of it is consumed.

In a healthy person, inflammation is a natural response by the immune system, which begins due to an injury. When a person drinks excessively, it causes a widespread response that can’t be easily controlled.

This is dangerous because the body will start attacking healthy tissue, like the joints and bones, instead of helping to heal the damaged areas.

The amount of alcohol a person consumes has to be significant for joint and bone tissue damage to occur. Research has shown that a person who only has one alcoholic beverage a day will have a lower level of inflammation in the body.

Other Joint And Bone Conditions Aggravated By Drinking

When doctors are asked if alcohol abuse causes joint pain, most are quick to agree that it does. Alcohol abuse can lead to several different joint and bone conditions.

The first one is alcohol-induced osteopenia. Osteopenia has the same symptoms as osteoporosis, which are bone loss, inefficient bone repair, and an increased risk for bone fractures.

Osteopenia caused by alcohol abuse only occurs in people who drink excessively for many years. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is considered to be another joint and bone condition that is aggravated by drinking.

RA is considered an overactive immune system response, which triggers the body to attack the joints. If a person with this condition drinks excessively, they will increase the inflammation in their body.

This can cause irreparable damage, such as disfigurement of the fingers. Other types of arthritis can also be worsened by alcohol abuse.

So can a condition called gout, which occurs because of a buildup of uric acid in the joints. Further, many of the medications prescribed for these health conditions cannot be taken with alcohol because this could prevent them from working properly.

Finding Treatment For Alcohol Abuse

Those who want to know if alcohol abuse causes joint pain may already be experiencing a wide range of medical problems from their addiction.

The best thing to do to improve their health is to get them treatment at a facility that specializes in alcohol abuse.

Beginning with inpatient treatment is best because it will help them to safely detox and provide urgent medical care if they need it.

Trying to detox alone isn’t recommended because there are many medical emergencies that can arise if a person isn’t monitored properly. Not all addiction treatment centers work with patients who struggle with alcohol abuse, though.

If you need help finding a rehab facility that suits your needs, be sure to give one of our treatment specialists a call to get a list of rehab centers that provide treatment for alcohol abuse.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

  • Was this Helpful?
  • YesNo
Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on April 23, 2020
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (844) 616-3400