For many people, a glass of wine or an alcoholic drink is a great way to unwind and relieve some stress after a long day. But if you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from knee joint pain, you may be wondering if your drinking habits could be to blame.

But can alcohol cause knee pain?

Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between alcohol and knee pain to see if there’s a cause for concern.

Can Alcohol Cause Knee Pain?

It’s no secret that the effects of alcohol can impact your health negatively, but can it also cause knee pain? While there isn’t a clear link between the two, experts believe that excessive drinking habits contribute to joint inflammation, which can lead to chronic pain.

Additionally, alcoholic beverages can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, making bones more susceptible to injury. Below are some conditions that can be exacerbated by alcohol consumption, and harm your joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

While moderate alcohol consumption is not known to cause arthritis pain, it can trigger chronic inflammation and exacerbate pain in those who already have the condition. Drinking alcohol is one of the most common triggers for rheumatoid arthritis flares.

Heart Disease

Alcohol abuse and having the diagnosis of one or multiple autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis is a risk factors for developing heart diseases, like cardiovascular disease.

When your heart isn’t healthy, it can put added strain on your joints, which can lead to pain.


Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to weaken and become more fragile. Alcohol consumption can disrupt the body’s ability to absorb calcium, making bones more susceptible to fractures. This is particularly concerning for people with arthritis, as a fracture can lead to joint pain and deformity.

Knee OA

One of the most common risk factors for developing knee osteoarthritis is alcohol consumption. It occurs when the cartilage around the knee starts to break down. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. Also, there are several risk factors for this condition, including age, obesity, and previous injuries.

Studies have shown that eating red meat can increase the level of c-reactive protein in the body. This protein is a marker for inflammation, and it can trigger the body’s immune system. This can lead to joint damage and pain. As a result, it’s important to avoid red meat if you’re at risk for knee osteoarthritis.



Gout is a type of arthritis that can cause recurrent attacks of pain and swelling in the joints. The risk of recurrent gout attacks is increased by excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and certain medical conditions.  Alcohol can also have negative effects on gout medication, making it less effective.

Left untreated, gout can lead to serious health problems such as kidney damage and joint deformity. Although gout can be painful and debilitating, it is treatable. Lifestyle changes and medication can lessen the frequency and severity of attacks.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged tissue or to correct joint deformities. By considering the treatment options, most people with gout can live relatively normal lives.


Cirrhosis is a liver condition that can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption. The liver is responsible for breaking down and removing toxins from the body.

When you have liver damage, it can’t perform these functions as efficiently. This can lead to a buildup of toxins in the blood, which can cause pain and inflammation in the joints.

Uric Acid Buildup

Alcohol intake can also increase uric acid levels, so it’s not surprising that grain-based alcohol like beer can be the reason for flares and other arthritis symptoms. Uric acid is a byproduct of the body’s metabolism, and it’s normally excreted in the urine.

However, when uric acid levels get too high, it can form crystals that deposit in the joints. increasing inflammation and pain.

Unintentional Injury

If you abuse alcohol you are also more likely to have an accident, which can damage your joints. Alcohol slows down your reaction time, affects your balance, and impairs your judgment. This can lead to falls, car accidents, and other injuries that can cause joint pain.

If you drink alcohol excessively, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect yourself. Wear seatbelts, use stairs carefully, and don’t drink if you’re going to be operating machinery or doing anything that requires coordination.

Pain Management for Joint Pain

If you’re struggling with joint pain, it’s important to do everything you can to naturally alleviate this pain. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol. If you do drink, it’s important to limit your intake by only drinking small amounts of alcohol.

Additionally, there are several pain relief options available, such as over-the-counter medication, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct joint damage.


Consult Your Doctor

If you’re concerned about how drinking alcohol might impact your knee pain and quality of life, speaking with your doctor is always the best course of action. They can help you determine if taking moderate amounts of alcohol is necessary based on the severity of your symptoms.

In most cases, moderate alcohol consumption isn’t likely to cause significant damage to your knees. However, heavy drinking can lead to joint inflammation and other problems that may exacerbate knee pain.

Listen to your body and do moderate drinking to improve your overall health.

About the Author

Hi there! I’m Dr. Keagen Hadley, OTD, OTR/L. Straight out of the University of Mary, I’m all about blending my know-how in knee health, well-being, and medical technology. As a licensed occupational therapy doc, I’m here to translate complex concepts into clear, actionable insights – whether it’s knee care or groundbreaking healthcare tech.

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