A little tipple to “take the edge off” can often seem like an appealing option to someone living with chronic pain. In fact, alcohol is widely used by patients with chronic back pain. But it actually creates more problems than it solves, even exacerbating any pre-existing conditions.
So how can alcohol affect back pain, exactly?
1: It relaxes your muscles
This may sound like a positive thing but if you suffer from back or neck pain, relaxing your core muscles is not a good idea! One of the main reasons people drink alcohol is because of its ability to reduce stress levels. But your core muscles help to support your spine, therefore the effects of alcohol make it difficult for your core muscles to provide the right amount of support that your spine needs.
2: It affects your mood
Alcohol alters your mood and physiology. Because the substance is a depressant, it slows down the body’s natural processes such as circulation and breathing. But on top of that, regular alcohol intake can negatively affect your state of mind and emotional well being. Over time, alcohol usage may send you into a deep depression and jeopardise your recovery from neck or back pain.
3: It increases weight
One of the biggest culprits for neck and back pain is obesity. Not only does drinking alcohol rack up the calories, it also makes you feel like eating more! And of course, extra eating adds to the calorie count. Every extra pound you carry adds pressure on your spine, and potentially adds to your neck and back pain.
So the next time you go to pour yourself a glass of wine or grab a beer from the fridge, think of your back health! Remember that your spine doesn’t like booze as much as you may think! It’s important to recognise that alcohol abuse and back pain are closely related topics which usually influence each other for the worse. Regular alcohol intake can cause or contribute to existing back pain, while chronic back pain can be the source of alcohol dependency. Many alcoholics even develop back pain due to their regular alcohol consumption.
It is crucial to understand the relationship between back pain and alcohol. If you suffer from chronic pain, make sure you speak to a healthcare professional. There are always ways to safely manage your condition, even if your current treatment plan isn’t working.