Find out which types of arthritis can be directly affected by alcohol and its indirect effect on others.

When you have arthritis, there are certain foods, drinks, and lifestyle factors that can mitigate the symptoms in some cases, but also situations that could make it worse. A common question people have is “does alcohol affect arthritis?” There are some relationships and links that you should know about between alcohol and arthritis.

Article at a Glance:

So, what’s the consensus with alcohol and arthritis, and does alcohol affect arthritis?

  • The only type of arthritis that seems to be potentially caused by alcohol is gout.
  • Having alcohol in moderation may actually lower your risk of developing some types of arthritis.
  • If you already have arthritis, it’s important that you watch your drinking because symptoms of drinking, such as dehydration, can make joint inflammation feel worse.
  • For some types of arthritis, alcohol is called a trigger food because it dehydrates or because it may cause more inflammation, which can make symptoms worse as well.
  • Alcohol may also interact with either prescription or over-the-counter drugs you may be taking to treat arthritis.

How Alcohol Affects Arthritis?

So, does alcohol affect arthritis? Are there links between alcohol and arthritis?

In short, yes.

There’s one type of arthritis, gout, that can be directly related to alcohol. Gout is a condition where a buildup of a chemical called uric acid happens in your hands or feet, causing hard, sharp crystals in the joint. It’s incredibly painful. It can be temporary, or it can come back over and over again. Doctors believe that the two are directly related in this situation because beer and liquor increase the risk of developing gout.

Gout is triggered by certain foods and drinks which contain a chemical called purine, and the amount of purine in alcohol is high.

Aside from gout, alcohol and arthritis might have other relationships to one another. There is some research showing that drinking in moderation, which is essentially a glass of wine or a beer daily, may help reduce the risk of developing certain arthritic conditions, but again, moderation is the keyword here.

Related Topic: Sudden alcohol intolerance

Other Ways Alcohol Affects Arthritis

There are some other things to know about the effects of alcohol on arthritis:

  • Drinking can be problematic because alcohol is a diuretic. This means your body loses water as you drink, and this can lead to problems with ligaments and tissue. Your joints require fluids to move smoothly, so if you are dehydrated you may feel the results in your joints, and it can make the symptoms of arthritis more noticeable or worse.
  • In terms of rheumatoid arthritis, there is research showing that people who have at least one drink three times or more a week are four times less likely to have RA than nondrinkers, but with more than that, you may be putting yourself at risk for other conditions and diseases.
  • It’s important to consider the medications you may be taking to treat the inflammation and joint pain. If someone takes disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), they’re advised not to drink alcohol because of the increased risk of liver toxicity.
  • It’s not just prescription drugs that may cause problems. If you take over-the-counter NSAIDs like Aleve or Motrin and you drink alcohol, you may be at a higher risk of ulcers and bleeding. Combining alcohol with acetaminophen, which can be used to treat the pain of arthritis, increases the risk of liver disease.

Nicole LaNeve
Editor – Nicole LaNeve
Nicole leads a team of passionate, experienced writers, editors and other contributors to create and share accurate, trustworthy information about drug and alcohol addiction, treatment and recovery for The Recovery Village and all Advanced Recovery Systems sites. Read more
Benjamin Caleb Williams
Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

Conway, Richard; Carey, John. “Risk of liver disease in methotrexate treated patients.” World Journal of Hepatology, September 18, 2017. Accessed June 4, 2020.

Maxwell, James; Gowers, Isobel; Moore, David; Wilson, Anthony. “Alcohol consumption is inversely associa[…]rheumatoid arthritis.” Rheumatology, July 22, 2010. Accessed June 4, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.