Alcohol abuse can lead to many problems. One of the consequences of alcohol addiction is joint complications. For centuries, drinking alcohol has been discussed as increasing the risk of worsening inflammatory joint diseases. Although some studies suggest that moderate drinking might actually reduce the chance of developing a joint-related disease, drinking has more minuses than pluses for joint health, especially if a certain inflammatory condition is already present. Here are more details about some of the conditions that alcohol use has an impact on.
Alcohol and gout
Gout is a painful inflammatory condition of the joints, a kind of acute arthritis which is most common in men. It is caused by uric acid crystals being deposited in the joints. According to researchers, while genetics play a huge role in the development of gout, environmental factors, such as alcohol abuse or at least regular consumption, are among the causes that have led to the increase of gout cases in the past years. One of the alcoholic beverages that is said to be one of the most strongly connected to gout is beer as contains not only alcohol, but is also high in purines (less alcoholic beers actually contain more purines), which are metabolized into uric acid through the process of digestion. The normal way of things is when this acid is removed from the body through urine but if the kidneys cannot process all of it, its levels in the blood increase. When this happens, the uric acid forms crystal deposits which are stored in joints and these lead to gout. Studies are not unanimous when it comes to whether alcoholic drinks such as wine contribute less or as much as beer but one should choose carefully one’s drink and avoid excessive drinking to lower the chance of a gout attack. It must also be mentioned that if you already have guot and take medications for it, alcohol may interfere by lowering their effect and causing the pain to be more severe.
Alcohol and rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease the development of which, as gout, is said to be due to both hereditary and environmental factors. As gout, it is an inflammatory disease of the joints but both diseases are different. They cause disability and as a whole hinder normal life, but while gout occurs mostly in the big toe and is always accompanied by swelling, redness and excruciating pain, rheumatoid arthritis can affect either joint of the body and suffering from it does not always mean there is going to be severe pain, redness and swelling. Naturally, alcohol does not react well with medication for rheumatoid arthritis. Mostly prescribed are the so-called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and alcohol consumption, especially excessive one, means an increased chance of stomach bleeding. People with a form of rheumatoid arthritis are already with lower resistance so their immune system is compromised even more by the use of DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) and when we involve alcohol intake the picture gets even more complicated. Although there have been some studies according to which moderate consumption of some type of alcohol (such as beer) can slightly affect the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in a positive way, a lot is still unknown and much more research has to be done on the matter. Surely, if you already suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor will prohibit you from drinking any type of alcohol of any amount, for the reasons we have already mentioned. Drinking alcohol is definitely not a good idea if you wish to lead a healthy life and avoid any complications of your already-existing health problems.
Alcohol and avascular necrosis (AVN)
Excessive drinking is amongst the biggest risk factors for the development of this condition. AVN, also known as osteonecrosis, is the “death” of a bone tissue caused when the blood supply to the bone is cut off or impaired. This can lead to the collapse of the bone and when it occurs near a joint, the surface of it may suffer as well. Avascular necrosis can develop because of an injury, steroid medications, and excessive alcohol use. Abusing alcohol causes the development of fatty substances that could lead to the blocking of blood vessels. As a result, the bones are not supplied with enough blood. Treatment for this disease comes in both surgical and non-surgical forms. However, it is always best to try to avoid a disease rather than try to cure it. You could do that if you limit your alcohol intake to maximum one glass of beer or wine a day, even though even that is sometimes considered too much, especially if you are prone to developing join-related diseases.
Alcohol and fibromyalgia
It is said that alcohol has no impact on conditions such as osteoarthritis and forms of fibromyalgia (a disorder which is characterized by musculoskeletal pain in addition to fatigue, sleep, mood swings and memory issues). However, alcohol increases the chance of internal bleeding, stomach aches and liver disorders, which is especially true when it is combined with medications such as painkillers. Alcohol can lower or change the effect of pills prescribed for treating arthritis and related conditions. So, you should not drink or limit your intake to one glass a day (as we mentioned earlier).
Our body’s resistance to illnesses is lowered when there is alcohol abuse at hand. Vitamin deficiencies are usual for people who are considered heavy drinkers. Aside from the risks to the stomach, intestines and liver, a vitamin deficiency is another reason for recommending moderate alcohol consumption. People who suffer from the condition called fibromyalgia are at times prescribed benzodiazepines in order to calm down and relax their muscles. Their active ingredients have an impact on the central nervous system. Combining alcohol with these medications is particularly dangerous as it intensifies their effect on the person’s body.
Chronic alcoholic myopathy
Chronic alcoholic myopathy is a muscle wasting disease which could be developed by people who drink excessively. It is usually located in the shoulders and legs. It is not quite certain in what way alcohol leads to this condition but according to some suggestions “acetic acid, a breakdown product of alcohol, may interfere with energy release from glucose in the muscles, leading to protein in the muscle tissues being used as an alternative energy source.”
Alcohol is an addiction for many people. To drink more than a small amount of it can lead to dehydration as the body’s water balance is disrupted. Alcohol’s breakdown products, which are mainly acetaldehyde and acetic acid, disrupt normal metabolism. Some substances in a number of alcoholic drinks could trigger toxic reactions that spur inflammation.
Joint problems and alcohol abuse are interrelated in different ways but we should always be careful not to drink too much. Mixing drugs with alcohol is said to be a dangerous habit and should be avoided at all costs. All in all, some people are more prone to different joint diseases than others, but not having somebody in the family who has suffered from such a condition is in no way a guarantee that you will not as well. Alcohol abuse, combined with an overall unhealthy lifestyle and habits, is the surest way for you to trigger a joint inflammation, even if such conditions do not run in the family.