Curious How Mindful Drinking Can Help You Thrive? 🎉🙌
Click Here
A lady experiencing back pain
Alcohol and Health

Why Does Your Back Hurt After Drinking?

Published:
April 2, 2024
·
13 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Written by
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.
April 2, 2024
·
13 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
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.
April 2, 2024
·
13 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
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.
April 2, 2024
·
13 min read
Reframe App LogoReframe App Logo
Reframe Content Team
April 2, 2024
·
13 min read

Back Pain and Drinking Alcohol

  • Although back pain is not always related to drinking alcohol, drinking can contribute to inflammation, dehydration, and dangerous behaviors that can all be risk factors for back pain or other back problems.
  • To reduce risk of back pain or other health issues related to drinking alcohol, practice drinking in moderation, exercise regularly, and stay hydrated.
  • Whether you’re looking to eliminate alcohol completely or cut back on drinking, Reframe can help you develop healthier habits.

You wake up on a Sunday morning after a night of drinking. In addition to the hangover symptoms you feel, you notice a little twinge of back pain. Maybe you just slept wrong, and it’s no big deal, but then a thought dawns on you: could the pain you’re experiencing be related to those margaritas you drank last night? 

Turns out, back pain and alcohol may actually be related. Let’s explore the link between the two in more detail as we dive into the topic together.

The Science Behind Alcohol and Back Pain

A lady experiencing back pain

When it comes to the relationship between back pain and alcohol, multiple physiological factors are involved! Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to various health issues, many that are related to our nerves and contribute to back pain. Let’s take a look at some common contributors:

  • Nutritional deficiencies. Heavy drinking impairs our body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron, which are crucial for spinal health.

  • Inflammation. Chronic alcohol use contributes to inflammation throughout our body because it can damage our tissues, disrupt our immune function, and cause stress on our systems overall. This level of stress can exacerbate pain and discomfort in areas that are already weakened or injured, including our back muscles.

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and leaves us feeling dehydrated. Dehydration affects several systems in our body, including our spinal discs, making them more susceptible to injury or sensitivity.

  • Kidney damage and constipation. If we picture our organs’ locations in our body and think about where the kidneys are in relation to our back, it makes sense that we might feel some discomfort or pain in that area. After all, our bodies are all one unit! Alcohol can cause kidney damage and slow down our metabolism, which can cause constipation. These conditions are both related to back pain, particularly lower back pain.

  • Accidents and injuries. Alcohol can lower our inhibitions or cause us to be (yikes!) a bit less aware of our movements and actions. Ever found a mystery bruise the day after a night of drinking? Yep, bumps and falls can happen when we’re less aware of our movements. Alcohol-related accidents or injuries, particularly those involving falls or other more serious trauma, are another factor to consider.

While moderate alcohol consumption can temporarily exacerbate existing back issues, excessive and chronic alcohol use significantly increases the risk and severity of new back problems.

Back Pain Conditions Affected by Alcohol

There are many reasons for back pain. Our back is pretty much a hub for our body’s nerves. Let’s discuss a few other conditions, such as sciatica and gastritis, that could be responsible for back pain or discomfort.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a wise idea to contact your healthcare provider for a professional diagnosis and treatment recommendations, as not all back issues are related to drinking alcohol. Either way, good for you for taking control of your health!

Sciatica

Sciatica is characterized by pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which runs from our lower back down through our hips and legs. The severity of the pain can vary, from a mild ache to a sharp burning sensation or even severe discomfort.

Sciatica is often caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve due to factors like a herniated disc, spinal bone spur, or other spinal conditions. Sciatica can also be triggered by lower back trauma or other injuries. Common symptoms of sciatica include numbness, tingling, weakness, or difficulty moving a specific part of your body.

Ever hear of alcohol being called the “great magnifier”? Basically, this means alcohol can amplify existing feelings, whether those feelings are emotional or physical. This same concept applies to underlying back pain or other health problems. As we mentioned above, alcohol consumption can exacerbate existing conditions and cause inflammation and dehydration, which in turn, may worsen spinal disk degeneration and increase the risk of a herniated disk. Also don’t forget about clumsy behavior. Similar to the slips, bumps, and falls that sometimes happen when we’re drinking, some of us might also engage in riskier behaviors when we’re drinking that could mean a potential back injury.

Gastritis

Another health condition to consider when we’re thinking about back pain is gastritis. Gastritis is characterized by inflammation of the stomach lining. This inflammation can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, or other uncomfortable symptoms like indigestion. Gastritis can be acute —occurring suddenly and lasting for a short time — or chronic, meaning it develops gradually and lasts over an extended period of time.

Drinking alcohol increases our risk of gastritis in a few ways. 

  • Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, leading to inflammation and damage.

  • Drinking alcohol also increases the production of stomach acid, which can further aggravate the stomach lining and lead to erosions or ulcers.

  • Alcohol can weaken the stomach’s protective barrier, making it more susceptible to damage.

Now that we’re aware of the potential links between drinking alcohol and back pain, what can we do to prevent unpleasant or serious back problems?

Back Pain Conditions Affected by Alcohol

How To Prevent Back Pain

To help avoid uncomfortable back aches and pains, here are a few ways to keep your spine (and you) happy and prevent the risk of any alcohol-related accidents along the way!

  • Drink in moderation. Moderation is key when it comes to reducing your risk of  back pain and other health problems. Consider making a plan or setting a limit for alcohol intake and holding yourself accountable. (Check out our article with tips for managing moderation in your day-to-day life.)
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other healthy, hydrating fluids with electrolytes, such as sports drinks or coconut water. If you choose to drink alcohol, you can try alternating alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic options like soda or water to slow yourself down and keep hydrated. You can also try a healthy mocktail or order craft mocktails at a bar
  • Stretch and exercise regularly. Get moving! It’s important to move our bodies regularly to help reduce inflammation and tightness, and it’s also great for our mental health. Luckily, we’ve written extensively about the many benefits of exercising.

What Is Drinking in Moderation?

As we mentioned earlier, moderation is key to overall health and a healthy relationship with alcohol. We may have heard the term “moderation” thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean?

Moderation means consuming alcoholic beverages in reasonable limits that mitigate risks to health. Moderation implies a balanced and controlled approach to drinking, and it’s typically defined as two drinks or fewer in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women.

Moderation entails making intentional and informed decisions about the quantity and frequency of our alcohol intake. Mindful drinking prioritizes our health goals and allows us to avoid negative consequences such as impaired judgment or dependency. To learn more about how mindful drinking benefits overall well-being, check out our article about health benefits of cutting back on drinking.

Summing Up

Everyone’s body is different, and we all respond to alcohol differently. The first step to taking better care of our body is being more in tune with how we treat it. What we put into our bodies can affect the way we feel, physically and mentally. It’s never too late to start our journey to better health!

You wake up on a Sunday morning after a night of drinking. In addition to the hangover symptoms you feel, you notice a little twinge of back pain. Maybe you just slept wrong, and it’s no big deal, but then a thought dawns on you: could the pain you’re experiencing be related to those margaritas you drank last night? 

Turns out, back pain and alcohol may actually be related. Let’s explore the link between the two in more detail as we dive into the topic together.

The Science Behind Alcohol and Back Pain

A lady experiencing back pain

When it comes to the relationship between back pain and alcohol, multiple physiological factors are involved! Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to various health issues, many that are related to our nerves and contribute to back pain. Let’s take a look at some common contributors:

  • Nutritional deficiencies. Heavy drinking impairs our body’s ability to absorb essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and iron, which are crucial for spinal health.

  • Inflammation. Chronic alcohol use contributes to inflammation throughout our body because it can damage our tissues, disrupt our immune function, and cause stress on our systems overall. This level of stress can exacerbate pain and discomfort in areas that are already weakened or injured, including our back muscles.

  • Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and leaves us feeling dehydrated. Dehydration affects several systems in our body, including our spinal discs, making them more susceptible to injury or sensitivity.

  • Kidney damage and constipation. If we picture our organs’ locations in our body and think about where the kidneys are in relation to our back, it makes sense that we might feel some discomfort or pain in that area. After all, our bodies are all one unit! Alcohol can cause kidney damage and slow down our metabolism, which can cause constipation. These conditions are both related to back pain, particularly lower back pain.

  • Accidents and injuries. Alcohol can lower our inhibitions or cause us to be (yikes!) a bit less aware of our movements and actions. Ever found a mystery bruise the day after a night of drinking? Yep, bumps and falls can happen when we’re less aware of our movements. Alcohol-related accidents or injuries, particularly those involving falls or other more serious trauma, are another factor to consider.

While moderate alcohol consumption can temporarily exacerbate existing back issues, excessive and chronic alcohol use significantly increases the risk and severity of new back problems.

Back Pain Conditions Affected by Alcohol

There are many reasons for back pain. Our back is pretty much a hub for our body’s nerves. Let’s discuss a few other conditions, such as sciatica and gastritis, that could be responsible for back pain or discomfort.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a wise idea to contact your healthcare provider for a professional diagnosis and treatment recommendations, as not all back issues are related to drinking alcohol. Either way, good for you for taking control of your health!

Sciatica

Sciatica is characterized by pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which runs from our lower back down through our hips and legs. The severity of the pain can vary, from a mild ache to a sharp burning sensation or even severe discomfort.

Sciatica is often caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve due to factors like a herniated disc, spinal bone spur, or other spinal conditions. Sciatica can also be triggered by lower back trauma or other injuries. Common symptoms of sciatica include numbness, tingling, weakness, or difficulty moving a specific part of your body.

Ever hear of alcohol being called the “great magnifier”? Basically, this means alcohol can amplify existing feelings, whether those feelings are emotional or physical. This same concept applies to underlying back pain or other health problems. As we mentioned above, alcohol consumption can exacerbate existing conditions and cause inflammation and dehydration, which in turn, may worsen spinal disk degeneration and increase the risk of a herniated disk. Also don’t forget about clumsy behavior. Similar to the slips, bumps, and falls that sometimes happen when we’re drinking, some of us might also engage in riskier behaviors when we’re drinking that could mean a potential back injury.

Gastritis

Another health condition to consider when we’re thinking about back pain is gastritis. Gastritis is characterized by inflammation of the stomach lining. This inflammation can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, or other uncomfortable symptoms like indigestion. Gastritis can be acute —occurring suddenly and lasting for a short time — or chronic, meaning it develops gradually and lasts over an extended period of time.

Drinking alcohol increases our risk of gastritis in a few ways. 

  • Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, leading to inflammation and damage.

  • Drinking alcohol also increases the production of stomach acid, which can further aggravate the stomach lining and lead to erosions or ulcers.

  • Alcohol can weaken the stomach’s protective barrier, making it more susceptible to damage.

Now that we’re aware of the potential links between drinking alcohol and back pain, what can we do to prevent unpleasant or serious back problems?

Back Pain Conditions Affected by Alcohol

How To Prevent Back Pain

To help avoid uncomfortable back aches and pains, here are a few ways to keep your spine (and you) happy and prevent the risk of any alcohol-related accidents along the way!

  • Drink in moderation. Moderation is key when it comes to reducing your risk of  back pain and other health problems. Consider making a plan or setting a limit for alcohol intake and holding yourself accountable. (Check out our article with tips for managing moderation in your day-to-day life.)
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or other healthy, hydrating fluids with electrolytes, such as sports drinks or coconut water. If you choose to drink alcohol, you can try alternating alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic options like soda or water to slow yourself down and keep hydrated. You can also try a healthy mocktail or order craft mocktails at a bar
  • Stretch and exercise regularly. Get moving! It’s important to move our bodies regularly to help reduce inflammation and tightness, and it’s also great for our mental health. Luckily, we’ve written extensively about the many benefits of exercising.

What Is Drinking in Moderation?

As we mentioned earlier, moderation is key to overall health and a healthy relationship with alcohol. We may have heard the term “moderation” thrown around a lot, but what does it actually mean?

Moderation means consuming alcoholic beverages in reasonable limits that mitigate risks to health. Moderation implies a balanced and controlled approach to drinking, and it’s typically defined as two drinks or fewer in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women.

Moderation entails making intentional and informed decisions about the quantity and frequency of our alcohol intake. Mindful drinking prioritizes our health goals and allows us to avoid negative consequences such as impaired judgment or dependency. To learn more about how mindful drinking benefits overall well-being, check out our article about health benefits of cutting back on drinking.

Summing Up

Everyone’s body is different, and we all respond to alcohol differently. The first step to taking better care of our body is being more in tune with how we treat it. What we put into our bodies can affect the way we feel, physically and mentally. It’s never too late to start our journey to better health!

Summary FAQs

1. Does drinking alcohol cause back pain?

Moderate alcohol consumption may not always lead to back pain, but alcohol-related inflammation can temporarily exacerbate existing issues or injuries. Excessive and chronic alcohol use can significantly increase the risk and severity of back problems.

2. Does drinking alcohol cause sciatica?

Drinking alcohol and smoking can contribute to sciatica by exacerbating underlying conditions that affect the spine and nerves.

3. What is sciatica?

Sciatica is characterized by pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the hips, buttocks, and legs. The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort.

4. Why does my back hurt after drinking?

Alcohol may cause inflammation and dehydration, which can lead to back problems. Alcohol consumption can also be related to risky behavior, which could put you at increased risk for back-related injuries and pain.

Want To Have Healthier Drinking Habits?

Want to take better care of your body and become the master of moderation? Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today.

Call to action to download reframe app for ios usersCall to action to download reframe app for android users
Reframe has helped over 2 millions people to build healthier drinking habits globally
Take The Quiz
Our Editorial Standards
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.
Learn more
Updated Regularly
Our articles undergo frequent updates to present the newest scientific research and changes in expert consensus in an easily understandable and implementable manner.

Table of Contents
Call to action for signing up reframe app
Relevant Articles
Ready to meet the BEST version of yourself?
Start Your Custom Plan
Call to action to download reframe app for ios usersCall to action to download reframe app for android users
review
31,364
5 Star Reviews
mobile
3,250,000+
Downloads (as of 2023)
a bottle and a glass
500,000,000+
Drinks Eliminated

Scan the QR code to get started!

Reframe supports you in reducing alcohol consumption and enhancing your well-being.

Ready To Meet the Best Version of Yourself?
3,250,000+ Downloads (as of 2023)
31,364 Reviews
500,000,000+ Drinks eliminated
Try Reframe for 7 Days Free! Scan to download the App