Shoulders Hurt After Alcohol Consumption – Is It a Sign of Lymphoma?

You probably had quite a lot to drink last night or made a habit of heavy drinking over years. And you notice that your shoulder, arm, and neck hurt after drinking alcohol. That can be very bothersome and concerning.

So you might wonder why do my shoulders hurt when I drink alcohol?

It is happening probably because you are dehydrated due to excessive alcohol in your body. Other reasons may include bad sleeping positions, alcohol myopathy, or vitamin B deficiency. In this case pain in the lymph nodes can also cause shoulder pain. Or the alcoholic metabolites are being too toxic for your muscle.

Now, this snippet does not even begin to answer all your queries. That is why we came up with a detailed analysis. Hop on board then!

And the side effects of alcohol consumption can range from euphoria to coma. Neither of which is appreciated for good health.

Is Alcohol and Shoulder Pain Related?

Well, all that talk about side effects never put us off of alcohol ever, did it? We keep drinking if that makes us feel good.

But whichever alcoholic drink we opt for, sometimes we feel that our neck and shoulders keep hurting after drinking alcohol. Now this problem does not readily occur every time we go for one drink or two. But this shoulder and neck pain can be pretty common if you are a regular and heavy drinker.

why-do-my-shoulders-hurt-when-i-drink-alcohol

Now the question arises are these two related – the drinking and the pain afterwards? I would say, yes. Alcohol in our body system does more harm than good. By drinking alcohol on a regular basis, we just increase the chance of developing this shoulder pain more. 

As the pain originates from drinking itself, naturally it subsides after the drinking is reduced or we put a leash on it. But yeah, sometimes this pain comes from some other underlying health problems unrelated to alcohol drinking.

Why Do My Shoulders Hurt When I Drink Alcohol?

This is the first question that comes to mind after you wake up in the morning hungover and with an unbearable pain in the shoulder. There can be several different reasons why alcohol makes your shoulder and neck hurt. Check below to see if they can be the reason for this irritating shoulder pain you are currently experiencing.

Dehydration

Dehydration is the most common consequence of drinking alcohol. You will forget to drink water. This is because your brain thinks you already had enough liquid. But the alcohol itself will dehydrate your body.

Alcohol acts by reducing the production of the Anti Diuretic Hormone (ADH) of the body, namely Vasopressin. When there’s a fall in ADH concentration in the blood, you pee too much and let all the water content of your body out. 

Since this bodily water decreases after taking alcohol, dehydration ensues. But what is the relation between dehydration and shoulder pain?

dehydration

Well, your body and neck areas are supported by vertebrae. And between two vertebras, there is a intervertebral disc. This disc acts as a cushion to the external pressure and impacts on the vertebral column. 

It also acts as a shock absorber. Now, these discs are made of a gelatinous material that lies at the center. When you are dehydrated, these gel like matters dry up and become stiff. 

And this stiff disc can not help to absorb shock. That is why the neck and shoulder region hurts after drinking alcohol.

Sleeping Posture

Your sleeping position plays a pivotal role in your shoulder and neck pain. Say you drank the night away in some club in the celebration of your friend getting a promotion. 

Now alcohol depressed your brain activities and made you sleepy and tired after some shots.

You found the next hard surface you could and slept there as you are definitely intoxicated and cannot think straight. You woke up in the morning to find yourself in an uncomfortable position that strained your neck or shoulders.

Now that definitely is gonna hurt a lot. 

Vitamin B Deficiency

Another cause for shoulder pain after alcohol consumption can be that you are lacking enough vitamin B.

Drinking alcohol for a long time can lead to bodily deficiency of Thiamin, Folate, vitamin B6 and Riboflavin deficiency. And if you are in a deficit of these essential components of daily diet, it can easily lead to peripheral neuropathy.

One of the classic symptoms of the health problem is shoulder and neck pain. So your post drinking pain in the shoulder can also arise from vitamin deficiency as well. 

Alcohol Myopathy

Alcohol myopathy is a very common side effect in people who are addicted to alcohol. Myopathy means a clinical condition where you lose the muscle mass, strength, and function.

Alcoholic Myopathy is a term that denotes muscle loss and dysfunction of the muscle in chronic alcohol drinkers. It can arise from a long term history of taking alcohol repeatedly, or from an incidence of taking alcohol in a very large amount.

This condition ensues because alcohol makes the body absorb less nutrients from the food, yet the exact pathophysiology is unclear. 

Some common symptoms of alcoholic myopathy are muscle pain, cramping, stiffness and spasms. So your shoulder pain can be caused by drinking excessive alcohol the other night.

Pain in the Lymph Nodes

Having painful lymph nodes can cause pain in the neck and shoulder regions. And alcohol aggravates the pain of lymph nodes.

Lymph nodes are basically some glands of the immune system that are situated in different sites in our body. They work by protecting us when our body detects any infiltration by bacteria or foreign bodies. So, irritated and swollen lymph nodes can cause pain.

Lymph nodes are found in bunches in the armpits, neck area, above the collarbone, inguinal area, and many other places. When you have too much alcohol to drink, your blood vessels dilate and release lymphatic fluids in the blood. 

The cervical lymph nodes might get swollen after alcohol consumption and cause pain in the neck and shoulders.

lymphoma

Lymphoma

Now normally we do not always think of the worst situation first. There is a very little chance you might have lymphoma. But in case of the slight chance that you do, your shoulder pain can originate from that.

Lymphoma is a carcinoma of the lymph nodes. That can either be the Hodgkin type or Non Hodgkin type. But regardless, alcohol consumption puts stress on your lymphatic system. So if you have undiagnosed Lymphoma, it would cause you pain and  swelling of the lymphs after drinking alcohol. 

Even if your Lymphoma is already diagnosed and you are on medication for that, your doctor probably told you to refrain from drinking. 

This pain appears generally within minutes after drinking. You will feel sharp, stabbing or dull ache all around the lymph nodes. And if your cervical or axillary lymph nodes are affected, you may feel this pain around the shoulder and neck.

But not all shoulder pain leads you to lymphoma or cancer. So do not be too worried about it. Look for other symptoms of lymphoma if you are too concerned.

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Recurrent high fever
  • Night sweats
  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes

If you happen to have these symptoms, consult your doctor about your health conditions.

What to Do When Alcohol Makes the Shoulder Hurt

Now that we have gone through all the reasons why your shoulder may hurt from drinking alcohol, it is time to think about the remedies. 

There is no one remedy that will help you from the shoulder pain you are currently experiencing. But avoiding some things and doing some others might help your cause a little.

Let us take a look at what might come to your help now.

Reduce the Alcohol You Take

This is probably the one thing you have already heard the most. But let me say this once again, that alcohol does more harm to your body than good. So cutting off a little bit on the drinking habit will do wonders for your health.

If you are a heavy drinker, try going for a drink or two less every day. Taper it off instead of stopping abruptly. Drinking is a risk factor of so many health problems, you will not be able to count off in your hands.

Let your health be your first priority, yeah? It is important we be healthy and happy in life.

Try Some Painkillers

If you have quite an amount of alcohol already in your systems, painkillers will be the go to solution for you. To relieve yourself from shoulder pain and bad headaches, aspirin and other anti inflammatory drugs can work magic. 

You can also take naproxen or ibuprofen or advil too. All these drugs will reduce the inflammation in your body caused by the alcohol. And will relieve you from the resultant headache and shoulder, arm pains or some other muscle aches.

Drink Lots of Water

Now I can not stress enough on this point. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while you drink. Even if you forget to drink water during drinking, drink it when you wake up or remember next.

As we have stated above, dehydration will make your neck stiff. And the practice of drinking water, soda or juice in between alcoholic drinks will give yourself a little break.

Your liver will get enough time to release enzymes that will break down the alcohol in this break period. So that the alcohol has less toxic effect on your body.

So try to drink water as much as you can while drinking. Trust me, it saves lives!

Include Dietary Vitamin B or Supplements

We already know how alcohol affects people with Vitamin B deficiency more than others. And long term drinking can cause the deficiency itself. So try adding vitamin B rich food items in your daily diet. 

dietary-vitamin-b

That includes the greens mostly – avocados, broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprout, leafy vegetables. Brown rice, almond, lentils, beef, banana, salmon, liver, and eggs are also some very good sources of vitamin B.

Another thing you can do is taking vitamin B supplements. They will do the work just the same. It is just that you have to add more medicines to your list. So it is better if you manage to get the nutrition from natural sources.

Eat Foods That Soak Up the Alcohol

Well, since you have already taken the alcohol in, you need a way to have it removed from your system ASAP. You can try some food items that will soak up all the alcohol from your body.

Try eating carb heavy foods like bread, crackers, sandwiches, and pasta. They will help the alcohol in your blood to soak up. Another food you can try is Salmon. It is rich in omega 3 and will help you recover faster.

FAQs

Can you be allergic to alcohol?

Answer : Alcohol intolerance can cause immediate, uncomfortable reactions after you take it. The most common symptoms are a stuffy nose and skin flushing and rashes. Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic condition in which the body can not break down alcohol efficiently.

What does alcoholic neuropathy feel like?

Answer : Constant pain in the hands or feet is one of the most bothersome symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy. The pain can resemble burning, throbbing or sharp pins and needles. As the condition progresses, the pain may vary in intensity. Sometimes diminishing for months before worsening again.

What is considered heavy drinking?

Answer : NIAAA defines heavy drinking as follows – for men, consuming more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, consuming more than 3 drinks on any day and more than 7 drinks per week is considered heavy drinking.

Parting Words 

For people drinking alcohol on a regular basis, this question becomes quite common – why do my shoulders hurt when I drink alcohol. I hope we could provide you with everything you needed to know about this pain that is bothering you.

 If you feel like this is getting out of hand, feel free to contact your physician and get a thorough check up.

Sajia Sharmin

Sajia Sharmin

Hi, I'm Sajia, currently studying in Chittagong Medical College and pursuing my MBBS degree. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something I prioritize in my daily life. Hence I read a lot of medical articles and blogs to keep up to date. And writing is something I'm very passionate about so I love helping people with the knowledge I've gained throughout my academic and blog-reading journey. I binge watch TV series and K-Dramas in my free time and absolutely love listening to K-Pop, jazz and R&B music.

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