Does drinking alcohol cause lower back pain?

Now, there is an eye catching title – especially as reality hits again after the excesses of Christmas
and the New Year!

Historically alcohol consumption has widely been reported as a risk factor for low back pain, and indeed there are studies that show an association between low back pain and high alcohol consumption. But does it cause the pain; and can it make it worse?

A fairly recent study conducted a review of the previous findings and summarised that there was a slight correlation between chronic low back pain and excessive alcohol consumption, but that this tended to be seen only in people with alcohol dependence. So the good news is that letting your hair down over the holidays won’t condemn you to a life of crippling lower back pain – although there are certainly other health concerns here…

It is also important to note that correlation does not equal causation, and there are many other factors that should be taken into consideration, for example general activity levels which we know have a big impact on lower back pain.

What about alcohol consumption when you already have back pain though? This is a tricky question, and the answer is that yes there is an impact. Firstly it’s important to remember that alcohol and pain killers don’t always play nicely together. In addition alcohol acts as a relaxant/depressant which can have the net effect of slowing the body’s natural healing processes down – not ideal. It can also impact sleeping patterns and sleep cycles; our bodies need this time to repair. And finally, if you have too much of the good stuff, sometimes – just sometimes – you can do silly things. Just saying…

In conclusion, alcohol does not cause back pain, but be a little careful if you already have back pain. You could always come in and see one of our most excellent physios and we will get that back sorted for you pronto!