Relation Between Alcohol and Backaches
Q: I fell asleep after heavy drinking on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. It was about 14 hours. On Sunday, when I woke up, I could not stand up. I had no feeling in my legs and was carried to bed. I slept for a while and couldn’t walk yet. This continued for about 12 hours before I could walk with great difficulty. I went to the doctor on Monday who gave me medications. He told me to stay in bed and not to walk at all. I will see him again on Friday. It is Wednesday today and from yesterday, I had major back pain. I am a female 32 years of age. Any advice?
– By Sam
Alcohol acts as a powerful muscle relaxant. When consumed in large amounts, it can relax your muscles to the extent that you cannot walk.
When we walk, the muscles of our legs, the calf muscle and thigh muscle need to contract (flex) to produce the movement.
It would take time for the effect of alcohol to wane off. Your doctor has rightly suggested you to stay in bed as much as possible. It would be dangerous to walk in such a condition, you may fall and further complicate the situation.
Some Effects of Alcohol
As for the back ache, there is no proven evidence that alcohol consumption causes backache. However, backaches are very commonly noticed in people taking alcohol.
The association can be explained in different ways. They are as follows:
- There may be some underlying disease in the body causing back ache like, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, herniated discs or some kind of stenosis in the spine. Taking alcohol worsens the damage due to these conditions and lead to pain in the back.
- Alcohol acts as a irritant for nerves and muscle. This effect of alcohol varies in different people. Some people are more tolerant to it, while others are not. In people prone to this affect, it may lead to nerve pain, backache and pains in other different muscle groups (arms/legs).
- Chronic alcoholics are usually deficient in vitamins, especially the B group- Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6 and Pantothenic acid. This weakens the various nerves of the body and may be a cause of pains in different muscle groups of the body.
After you visit your doctor on Friday, you may go for further evaluation for your backache. Get the common causes of back pain ruled out.
Your doctor may order simple investigations like X-ray back and CT scan for this.