Many people understand how alcohol can negatively affect their bodies when it comes to their liver or heart. No one is surprised when they hear that someone who consumes a large amount of alcohol has liver damage or suffers from a heart attack. However, other dangers lurk when people drink alcohol that many never realize, leading to health problems they never expected. One of the most common areas where this occurs is joint pain.
Alcohol consumption directly influences your joints and can cause severe and irreversible damage if continued year after year. The lack of awareness of the effect alcohol has on the joints is concerning, so giving people the knowledge they need is essential. If you drink alcohol and find your joints hurt later, it’s not in your head; it’s vital you learn the dangers alcohol has on your joints so you can make informed choices for the future.
How Alcohol Affects Joints
Your joints are cushioned by cartilage and protected by a bag of connective tissue with fluid inside. This synovial fluid allows you to move and bend without pain and provides your cartilage with the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. As we age, it’s normal for the cartilage and fluid to begin wearing down, thanks to the years spent running, jumping, and walking.
Alcohol directly targets the cartilage between your joints, thinning it out and, in some cases, making it disappear entirely. Every time you drink alcohol, it causes slight joint inflammation, which in younger adults may go unnoticed. However, paired with already deteriorating cartilage, this joint inflammation can lead to arthritis with flaring symptoms every time an alcoholic beverage is consumed.
As the joints swell, it can squeeze the fluid membrane surrounding them, leading to bone ischemia, which cuts off blood supply to the area. Once this happens, the joint can no longer get the nutrition and oxygen it needs, and the bone tissue begins to decay, a process called aseptic necrosis. In only three to five years of progression, this can lead to a completely ruined joint.
Another danger alcohol presents to your joints comes in the form of insoluble urates. When you drink alcohol, your body produces insoluble urates, which cannot be eliminated and are instead deposited into tissue cells. Once your cells become saturated with these urates, they develop hypertension, with kidney stones developing and calcification forming in tendons, ligaments, and the articular bag. As the urate crystals move throughout your body, they penetrate your cartilage and surrounding synovial fluid and enter your bones. Since alcohol has limited your kidney function, which filters these toxins from your blood, they cannot expel the urate crystals, leading to joint inflammation and a condition called Gout.
Why Does Alcohol have such a Negative Effect on the Joints?
Why is it that the effects of alcohol target joints in such a negative way? It stems from how the body responds to and processes alcohol. Here are four direct ways alcohol affects your joints.
Alcohol drains your body of its potassium, causing fluid retention and edema. This retention can occur inside your joints, increasing pressure and causing pain.
When you drink alcohol, it affects your neurohumoral reaction, which is what your immune system uses as a protective function for the body. When your immune system is compromised, chronic inflammation may increase.
Decreases Kidney Function
Drinking alcohol decreases your kidney function, which increases the amount of uric acid in your body. This process leads to the formation of insoluble salts that deposit in joints and decrease your mobility.
Damages Cell Membranes
The ethanol in alcohol damages your cell membranes, increasing their permeability. When this happens, it causes the intracellular metabolism (the process allowing cells to heal themselves) to work harder. Since the cells are working at an increased pace, they wear down faster, causing joint deterioration that eventually becomes irreversible.
Indirect Effects of Alcohol on Your Joints
Along with the direct effects alcohol has on your joints, there are a number of indirect ways it causes joint pain and damage.
It is common knowledge that prolonged and frequent alcohol consumption causes weight gain (think of the beer belly), and weight gain causes many health issues in your body and your joints. Increased pressure causes joints to deteriorate faster, leading to decreased mobility and pain. It can also remove calcium, which is essential for healthy bone development.
Forgetfulness may seem like a strange addition, but it can be harmful to your body and joints. When you drink alcohol, you may forget to take your medications, causing pain and even serious side effects, depending on what they are treating.
Increased Joint Pressure
Alcohol dulls the senses and inhibits our inhibitions, which is why many people consume it. However, the results can lead to pain, especially if you perform acts under the influence that you usually wouldn’t do (like dancing at a birthday or wedding.) You also sleep more soundly, which may seem beneficial but can cause pressure points, causing you to wake with numbness and pain in the legs and knees.
How Can You Prevent Alcohol Related Joint Damage?
The first way to stop alcohol-related joint damage is to limit or eliminate all alcohol from your diet. Although it won’t reverse any damage, it will prevent it from continuing and getting worse. Next, you can add calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous-rich foods into your diet, like cabbage, cucumbers, almonds, yogurt, nut milk, and celery.
Finally, taking a high-quality supplement that targets joint damage can help reduce pain and give your joints the nutrition they need to stay healthy. JointFuel360 offers superior joint protection by providing you with quality ingredients proven to increase mobility and decrease pain. With JointFuel360, you can get noticeable inflammation relief, so you can live your life pain-free. Our powerful formula goes to work quickly, giving you targeted results you can feel, so you can do the things you love again. Don’t spend another day with stiffness and pain; with JointFuel360, you can get the most out of life!