Does Drinking Alcohol Lead to Lower Back Pain?

Is there an association between a person’s alcohol consumption and their risk for developing lower back pain? Prior studies have reported an association between alcohol and back pain, but according to a team of researchers in Australia, there has been limited formal review of this connection.

AlcoholThe researchers sought to change that in a recent study, “Is alcohol intake associated with low back pain? A systematic review of observational studies.”  The study, which appears in the journal Manual Therapy, was published online ahead of print in November 2012.

How the Study Was Conducted
The researchers conducted a review of prior studies on alcohol and low back pain. They relied on a number of national databases, including Web of Science, Medline, CINAHL, LILACS, and the National Research Register, to identify relevant studies. In total, 26 studies were used in the analysis.

The researchers pulled the quantitative results from each of the studies and performed statistical analyses to determine a relationship between alcohol intake and risk of lower back pain.

What the Researchers Found
By pooling results across studies, the researchers found a slight association between low back pain and alcohol intake. The association was most commonly found in studies where the main focus was to investigate alcohol abuse in patients with chronic low back pain.

In the remaining studies, the researchers did not find a significant association between the amount of alcohol people drank and their back pain.

No More Alcohol?
The researchers conclude that alcohol intake was associated with lower back pain only in people who had problems with alcohol abuse and dependency. They argue that more educational strategies are necessary for vulnerable populations.

If you do have problems with alcohol abuse, seek help immediately—this study provides further evidence that getting help for problems with alcohol can have important effects on every part of your life.

Updated on: 09/01/15
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