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Alcohol Use and Lower Back Pain

woman struggles with alcohol use and lower back pain

Back pain, especially low back pain, is one of the most common complaints of American adults.  There are a variety of causes associated with back pain, including injury, arthritis, infection, and weak muscles that are prone to strain.  Back pain that lasts more than twelve weeks is considered chronic, and many people struggle with finding a way to manage and relieve their back pain. While some people may turn to alcohol to numb their pain or help them relax their muscles at the end of the day, excessive alcohol use has been found to worsen back pain and contribute to additional complications.   Several studies conducted to determine the association between lower back pain and alcohol use found that people with alcohol dependence were more likely to experience chronic lower back pain.  This correlation may exist for a complex variety of reasons. Alcohol decreases circulation which may lead to pain and inflammation in areas already susceptible to problems. Additionally, many people with chronic pain use alcohol to treat their symptoms, so this correlation may be in part an indication of a higher rate of alcohol abuse among people living with pain.  Another risk factor associated with pain and alcohol is the use of pain medications. Many medications used to treat back pain, including over the counter medications, can cause gastric bleeding or liver failure when taken with alcohol.

The Danger of Self-Medicating

While some doctors advise that patients with existing low back pain may be able to drink in moderation without contributing to their symptoms, most people are unaware of what moderation means.  “Safe” drinking is currently considered to be one drink or less per day for women, and two or less for men. Since most people who drink go beyond these standards, it is far more advisable to avoid alcohol altogether.  Drinking to alleviate pain is also a major risk factor associated with addiction. If you have been using alcohol to manage back pain and find that you are unable to quit, it may be time to seek professional treatment.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  We use an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.