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Alcohol and Health

Arthritis and Alcohol: How Drinking Can Impact Your Joints

August 3, 2023
7 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
August 3, 2023
7 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
August 3, 2023
7 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
August 3, 2023
7 min read
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Reframe Content Team
August 3, 2023
7 min read

We all love a leisurely weekend dinner party filled with good food, laughter, and maybe even the clinking of wine glasses. Some of us, however, may find ourselves pondering an important question as we reach for their glass, "Will this glass of Merlot somehow affect my arthritis symptoms?"

This question isn't trivial. In fact, it's a concern shared by millions of people across the globe who live with various forms of arthritis yet enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage. Let's dive headfirst into this compelling topic: How does alcohol interact with arthritis, and what influence does it have on the health of our joints?

The Broad Spectrum of Arthritis: Not Just One Disease

Before we can comprehend the impact of alcohol on arthritis, we need to understand what arthritis encompasses. Arthritis is not a single ailment; it’s a collective term that refers to numerous conditions causing inflammation in the joints. In some cases, as with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis arthritis, the cause is due to an autoimmune response. In others, as with osteoarthritis, the cause can be attributed to degeneration from overuse or age-related wear-and-tear.

Arthritis symptoms can span a spectrum from a mere discomfort to debilitating pain, significantly impacting one's quality of life.

The Complex Relationship Between Arthritis and Alcohol

Some research indicates that alcohol can amplify arthritis symptoms, especially in conditions such as gout. In such instances, alcohol, especially beer, can initiate painful gout attacks.

So what are the specific mechanisms by which alcohol influences arthritis? Here are a few factors that pay a role:

  • Inflammatory response. Alcohol has the potential to fuel bodily inflammation, which can exacerbate the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis conditions.
  • Medication interactions. Many drugs used in the treatment of arthritis can interact negatively with alcohol, leading to heightened side effects and possibly decreasing the treatment’s effectiveness.
  • Weight gain. Alcohol is high in calories, and consistent consumption can contribute to weight gain. Increased body weight exerts additional pressure on weight-bearing joints, aggravating arthritis symptoms.

How To Safely Enjoy Alcohol If You Have Arthritis

Mixing arthritis and alcohol may seem daunting, but thankfully, if we would like to enjoy an occasional alcoholic beverage, we can potentially still drink mindfully. Before imbibing, we should consider these steps:

  • Engage in open conversations. Start an open dialogue with your healthcare provider. They’re the best source for personalized advice about alcohol consumption in relation to your specific arthritis condition.
  • Make smart choices. Avoid beverages with a higher alcohol content, such as vodka, rum, and whiskey. If your medications might interact negatively with alcohol, it can be useful to explore mocktail options.
  • Be mindful. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
  • Track your symptoms. Maintain a log of your arthritis symptoms, paying particular attention to any exacerbations following alcohol consumption. This information could prove valuable when discussing your condition with your healthcare provider.

Knowledge Is Power!

Living with arthritis doesn't mean giving up our favorite Pinot Noir or our fondness for craft beer — but it does require us to be more mindful, proactive, and make informed choices about our health.

The relationship between alcohol and arthritis is nuanced, varying based on the type of arthritis, the amount of alcohol consumed, and our overall health. But, armed with this understanding, we can still enjoy our favorite drinks while ensuring our joints remain healthy and spry.

After all, the objective is not merely about managing arthritis — it's about wholeheartedly embracing life, joy, and all the beautiful moments that make our journey vibrant and truly worthwhile.

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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