Drinking Away The Pain: A Slippery Slope
One of the benefits of moderate drinking is that it may help you relax and ward off stress, which helps manage and prevent back pain.
However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that about 28% of people with chronic pain turn to alcohol to manage their pain. This presents several problems.
Ultimately, chronic alcohol use to dull back pain can cause you to develop a greater sensitivity to pain. If you withdrawal from alcohol after months or years of abusing it, you may feel pain to a greater degree than you did before. Because of this, many people go back to drinking as a form of pain management. This long-term, excessive use of alcohol causes significant and harmful problems for your overall health and safety.
What Are Leg Cramps
If you havent already, you will probably experience leg cramps at some point in your life. They can hit at the worst possible moments whether youre lying in bed at night or taking a run on the treadmill, that sharp stabbing pain can feel totally debilitating. If leg cramps, also called charley horses, persist, they can become even more irritating, perhaps knocking you off your typical exercise or sleep routine.
A leg cramp is a sharp, sudden contraction or tightening of the muscle in the calf, which usually lasts a few seconds to a few minutes. If a cramp does hit, you can ease it in the moment by stretching the muscle gently. To find a long-term solution to leg cramps, however, you might need to take a closer look at their many potential causes.
To keep leg cramps at bay, make sure youre nourishing your body and getting enough rest. Youll also want to rule out any underlying issues that could be contributing to leg cramping, such as peripheral artery disease or thyroid issues. See a doctor when cramps prevent you from exercising, or if they seem to happen spontaneously without a trigger.
Here, experts weigh in on the major reasons you might be experiencing leg cramps, so you can keep those muscles free of charley horses for good.
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Causes Of Alcoholic Neuropathy
In general, it takes years for alcoholic neuropathy to develop, so a long-standing history of heavy alcohol use is typical. Some people experience a faster onset and progression of alcoholic neuropathy than others. It’s not completely clear why some people are more prone to this complication than others.
Alcoholic neuropathy is also caused by nutritional deficiency, as well as toxins that build up in the body. Alcohol decreases the absorption of nutrients, such as protein and vitamin B12, causing significant deficits that affect many areas of the body, including the nerves.
Alcohol also alters the function of the stomach, liver, and kidneys in ways that prevent the body from properly detoxifying waste material, which then builds up and harms many regions of the body, including the nerves.
Nerve damage typically affects the axons, which are the projections that send electrical signals from one nerve to another, as well as the myelin, which is the fatty coating that protects the nerves.
Nerves don’t have a resilient ability to regenerate if they are severely damaged. The nerve damage of alcoholic neuropathy may be permanent if the damage has been taking place for a long period of time or if it persists.
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Sulfite Sensitivity And Anaphylaxis
Sulfites are commonly found in red wine. This can cause pain throughout the body if you have sulfite sensitivity. Sulfites are chemicals used in some foods and beverages as a preservative. They were banned from use in fruits and vegetables in 1986, but are still permitted in alcoholic beverages. A severe reaction to sulfites can cause pain in the chest, along with chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing, according to Cleveland Clinic.
All of these conditions could possibly trigger anaphylaxis a severe reaction that affects the entire body. If anaphylaxis is not treated, it can lead to serious complications or be fatal, according to Mayo Clinic. During anaphylaxis, your blood vessels dilate to an unhealthy size, causing a drop in blood pressure, increased heart rate and shock. Call 911 if you suspect that you’re developing signs of anaphylaxis.
Heavy Drinking Can Lead To Seriously Dry Scaly Feet
One side effect of heavy drinking is the development of psoriasis, which is a skin condition that leads to red, scaly patches of skin all over your body. When psoriasis affects a persons feet, simple things like walking can become extremely uncomfortable. Psoriasis can also cause unsightly pits in the toenails. Meanwhile, drinking dehydrates your entire body which can lead to heel fissures as well as flaky, cracked foot skin.
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How To Relieve Restless Leg Syndrome Symptoms
For most people, RLS is uncomfortable, annoying and sometimes unbearable. Some tips to help a person deal with RLS symptoms include:
Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation. Triggers for Restless Legs Syndrome. 2016. Accessed 14 May 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.
Drinking Alcohol May Up Active Leg Cramps At Night Among Old Age Patients
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A strong relationship has been found between alcohol consumption and active leg cramps occurring at night among patients above 60 years, reports a new study. The findings of the study are published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine.In a case-control study in France, 140 general practice patients with and without leg cramps were administered a food frequency questionnaire. Researchers found an association between global consumption of alcoholic beverages and nocturnal leg cramps.
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How To Use Acv For Leg Cramps
Many believe that all vinegar is the same, but it comes in two forms. The first is filtered, and the other is unfiltered. Filtered apple cider vinegar formed of water and apple juice. In the filtered process, the mother along with the sediments, is removed, thus giving bright, amber-colored vinegar. Whereas unfiltered apple cider vinegar is also made from apple juice and water, but the mother and the sediments are not removed, thus giving a cloudy appearance with residues in it. Both are the same one is diluted, another one undiluted. Regardless of health benefits, many dont prefer to drink the undiluted one because of its terrible taste.
Apple cider vinegar does not contain alcohol. Though it does go through a fermentation process that converts its sugars to alcohol, this alcohol is then converted into acetic acid this producing vinegar.
Is Cream Of Tartar Good For Leg Cramps
Consuming 1/4 1/2 tsp of Cream of Tartar each day will provide up to 10% of an essential mineral. Deficiency in potassium can lead to fatigue, muscle cramps, tingling and numbness plus mood changes. A 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar is around 3% of your daily requirement. An alternative to cream of tartar is LoSalt.
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Exercise & Movement Habits
The reason that leg cramps are often worst during the night is due to inactivity.
When you are still for long periods of time, neural activity and blood flow to extremities decreases. This can cause involuntary contractions of motor units . When these motor units continue to fire persistently, it results in painful cramps and spasms.
Another reason that cramps persist is a malfunction of the inhibitory circuits responsible for relaxing muscles.
Because there are multiple points of possible malfunction along the muscle contraction-relaxation pathway, it’s difficult to determine exactly where the fault occurs.
But in either case, the problem is caused by an underlying nerve malfunction, and exacerbated by periods of inactivity.
As you might have guessed, movement can help relieve and prevent cramps.
But how do you incorporate movement to prevent nighttime leg cramps?
Try doing reverse lunges immediately before crawling into bed to activate and stretch the primary muscles affected by nocturnal leg cramps.
You’ll notice in the video below that this exercise stretches the calves on the descent, and mobilizes the quadriceps and hamstrings on each repetition.
Perform 10-15 repetitions per leg, or until you feel a good burn. Stop before you get too exhausted to avoid ramping up your central nervous system . The goal is to activate the muscle groups, not burn them out.
Nocturnal Leg Cramps VS. Restless Legs Syndrome
Coping With Alcoholic Neuropathy
If you are diagnosed with alcoholic neuropathy and are currently taking care of yourself or you have a loved one taking care of you, you might consider getting professional help. A nurse or professional caretaker can be part of your treatment team and visit you at home regularly to help with a variety of tasks including:
- Assessing the results of your treatments
- Assessing your pain, sensory function, and motor function
- Helping you adjust to using a cane, walker, or wheelchair if needed
- Teaching you how to perform household tasks safely
- Working with other healthcare professionals such as doctors and physical therapists to monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed
Having a nurse come to your house to suit your needs can relieve a lot of added stress on you to keep track of your treatment plan alone.
Verywell acknowledges that a private nurse or caretaker may not be feasible for everyone and that readers do not have uniform access to safe, affordable, high-quality health care.
In addition, a support group can help you cope with the life changes you’re experiencing as a result of your condition. You might look for a support group specifically for alcoholic neuropathy or for people coping with chronic pain. You may also benefit from a support group to help you reduce your drinking or completely quit drinking alcohol.
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Drinking Alcohol At Night
Some people drink alcohol before going to bed, thinking a drink or two will help them sleep. However, alcohol use harms healthy sleep, in most cases and for most people. While alcohol may help a person fall asleep initially, alcohol decreases the quality of sleep and makes a person feel more tired. Drinking alcohol at night not only disrupts sleep quality but may worsen RLS symptoms, too. When a persons sleep is disrupted, their RLS symptoms may be affected also.
Why Do I Get Leg Cramps After Drinking Alcohol
Consumption of alcohol leads to loss of balance and coordination, making the muscles overwork whether you drink small or large amounts. Clinical trials show that the brain as well as the body suffers the effects of drinking alcoholic beverages for up to 3 days.
Muscle cramps occur when a muscle involuntarily tightens up and goes in to spasms, setting off acute pain.
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Alcoholism And Physical Fitness
In addition to looking at why drinking can harm muscles, its also important to consider how alcoholism affects overall fitness levels. Even if you are only a casual drinker, drinking can harm your ability to be physically fit.
Heavy alcohol use or alcoholism can affect your fitness in a few ways, including by impacting your bodys:
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/ Poor Nutrient Absorption
It has been noted that heavy drinkers fail to absorb certain nutrients, such as thiamine from food. Or may have a poor diet in the first place.
A symptom of thiamine deficiency is leg and foot cramping .
Unfortunately, individuals with a high alcohol dependency can often substitute alcoholic drinks for food.
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What Else Could Cause Leg Aches
Stupid things that people do when they drink too much alcohol may also provoke leg pains. Heavy drinking may cause too much dancing, wandering the streets at night or standing drunk, trying to cross the road while some car ran over your foot . Maybe you even got into a fight?
Stupid accidents and careless behavior happen, unfortunately. How many times have you seen your drunken friend falling and climbing up and down the stairs to their apartment or someone sleeping in awkward position? Well, these things too may cause leg aches and pains.
Legs Ache After Drinking Alcohol
Everyone knows that drinking too much alcohol, especially on a regular basis, should be avoided because excessive drinking can cause serious and chronic health problems. Taking an alcoholic drink or two occasionally may not be the worst idea you ever had, and some people even say that a glass of red wine has cardiovascular benefits, but drinking alcohol in large amounts could provoke a headache, nausea, vomiting, and clouded judgment, not too mention liver problems if you are a long-term heavy drinker.
So, when it comes to alcohol, the rule of thumb is to try to limit yourself in the evening to avoid morning complications, and only ever drink in moderation.
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What Can I Do To Make Leg Cramps Go Away If They Happen
You want to get rid of a leg cramp the moment it strikes. You might be finishing up an exercise routine, or you might be awakened in the middle of the night. In moments like that there are, unfortunately, no magical injections that can instantly relieve your pain. However, there are eight steps to take to possibly get rid of a leg cramp:
Stretch And Soothe Your Muscles
Be sure to stretch each day to keep foot muscles loose, especially before and after you get in a sweat session.
What if youre having a cramp at night? Stretch your foot forcefully to relieve the cramp by flexing your foot and pressing down on your big toe.
Walking around and jiggling your leg may also help with both foot and leg cramps. Taking a warm bath or shower or using ice may ease any lingering pain. Deep tissue massage may help in the long term.
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/ Alcoholic Myopathy & Neuropathy
Alcohol can affect muscle fibers, which can cause alcoholic myopathy.
Drinking too much alcohol over time can weaken muscles and this condition can be acute or chronic.
Symptoms of this myopathy include muscle cramps and stiffness.
Alcoholic neuropathy occurs when the peripheral nerves in your body are damaged by consuming too much alcohol.
Deficiencies in B-6 and B-12, thiamine, folate, niacin, and vitamin E can make it worse.
These vitamins are all needed to promote nerve function, and a shortfall in these vitamins can cause muscle spasms, weakness, and cramps .
So there you have it, 6 reasons why alcoholic drinks may be giving you cramp.
I hope you found this article useful.
Check out curemycramp.com for more articles like this.
Future Research And Implications For Practice
Further research should be undertaken to investigate the existence of an alcohol dose-related effect. Our study offers practitioners 2 major new elements for their daily practice. Advising patients about the impact of alcohol consumption on NLC may be an effective way to prevent these painful episodes. Alternatively, discussing NLC may be another icebreaker for general practitioners to approach alcohol misuse.
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Your Endurance And Energy Levels Are Lower
During exercise, your body is fuelled by the essential blood sugar produced by the liver when it releases glucose into the blood stream. Drinking alcohol reduces your livers ability to produce these all-importance sugars, meaning youre basically running on empty.
Alcohol consumption can also reduce the production of adenosine triphosphate , a key energy source for muscle cells, required for the biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction. The more your muscles move, the more ATP thats consumed, and the more thats needed to fuel your workout.
Will White Vinegar Get Rid Of Leg Cramps
Having white can destroy your tooth enamel and affect your health for its acetic acid content. Apple cider vinegar is always preferred for leg cramps. Drinking it at night has a blood sugar balancing potent effect. Morning consumption will cause no harm either. It works right at night, thus reducing pain and cramps, leading to proper circulation.
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Can You Get Leg Cramps At Night
Leg cramps at night happen when youre not very active, or when youre asleep. They may wake you up, make it harder for you to fall back asleep and leave you feeling sore all night. Yearly, monthly, weekly, nightly the frequency of leg cramps depends on the person. Nocturnal leg cramps can happen to anyone at any age, but they happen most often to older adults. Of people over age 60, 33% will have a leg cramp at night at least once every two months. Nearly every adult age 50 and older will have them at least one time. Seven percent of children will, as well. Approximately 40% of pregnant women will experience leg cramps at night. The reason behind that is thought to be that the extra weight of pregnancy strains the muscles.
Three-quarters of all reported leg cramps happen at night.