Does Alcohol Affect Arthritis?

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 with alcohol and arthritis, which are detailed below.

Alcohol and Arthritis | Does Alcohol Affect Arthritis?
Before looking at the relationship between alcohol and arthritis, this is a condition in which the joints become inflamed. The joints connect different body parts, and the primary symptom of arthritis is pain. If someone has arthritis in multiple joints, it’s a condition known as polyarthritis.

There are more than a hundred different types of arthritis, and the causes range from injury to certain infections. In some cases, it’s also due to metabolic problems, which is the case with gout, or autoimmune disorders.

Some of the risk factors for arthritis, in general, include genetic predispositions and injuries.

Along with joint pain, symptoms of arthritis can also include pain, warmth, swelling, and redness at the affected area.

For some types of arthritis, diet can play an important role in mitigating or exacerbating symptoms, and those details will be discussed below. In general, however, when people have arthritis the best thing to do is try and eat a healthy, balanced diet with a lot of omega-3s which can help combat inflammation, as well as substances like curcumin.

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

In short, yes.

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

Gout is triggered by food and drink that has something called purine, and the amount of purine in alcohol is high.

Aside from gout, when it comes to being a causal factor, alcohol and arthritis might have another relationship 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 key word here.

There are some other things to know about alcohol and arthritis:

  • Alcohol and arthritis can be problematic in combination with one another because alcohol is a diuretic. This means your body loses water as you drink, and it 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 alcohol and rheumatoid arthritis, there has been 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.
  • While alcohol in moderation isn’t inherently bad, when discussing alcohol and arthritis you have to think about medications you may be taking to treat the condition. If someone takes disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), they’re advised not to drink alcohol because of the increased risk of liver toxicity and the fact that around 1 in 1,000 patients taking these drugs develops liver cirrhosis.
  • It’s not just prescription drugs and drugs used specifically to treat arthritis that may cause problems with the combination of alcohol and arthritis. 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 There are similar risks if you take acetaminophen to treat the pain of arthritis.

For some types of arthritis, alcohol is called a trigger food, which could be because of the dehydration aspect, but it could also be because alcohol may cause more inflammation, which can make symptoms of arthritis worse.

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, and having alcohol in moderation may actually lower your risk of developing some types of arthritis. At the same time, if you already have arthritis it’s important that you watch your drinking because symptoms of drinking, such as dehydration, can make arthritis feel worse.

Also relevant with alcohol and arthritis is the fact that you should check with your doctor about any medicines you may be taking, which could be dangerous when mixed with alcohol.