Page last updated:April, 2018
Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced pain and fibromyalgia symptoms in chronic pain patients

Little research has focused on alcohol’s effects on chronic pain. A study assessed associations between pain, fibromyalgia symptoms, and moderate alcohol use in a large chronic pain sample.

A total of 2,583 new chronic pain patients presenting at a university pain clinic reported alcohol use and completed validated measures; 592 (23%) patients reported drinking, with 502 (85%) classified as moderate drinkers (females ≤7 and males ≤14 drinks/wk). General linear models (GLM) assessed the effects of moderate drinking on pain and symptom outcomes. The sample was stratified by gender and fibromyalgia (FM) status in secondary analyses.

Moderate alcohol users reported significantly lower FM symptoms (widespread pain and symptom severity), pain severity, interference, anxiety, depression, and catastrophising, and they reported higher physical function. Similar findings were observed in gender-stratified analysis, minus associations with FM symptom severity in females and anxiety in males. In patients meeting FM criteria, moderate drinking was associated with lower pain severity, interference, and depression, and higher physical function. Results in non-FM patients were similar to the total sample.

Moderate alcohol consumption in chronic pain patients was associated with decreased pain severity and interference, fewer painful body areas, lower somatic and mood symptoms, and increased physical function. A similar effect was observed in non-FM patients, but to a lesser extent in FM patients, suggesting chronic pain patients with less centralized forms of pain may benefit most from moderate alcohol consumption.

Source: Moderate Alcohol Consumption Is Associated with Reduced Pain and Fibromyalgia Symptoms in Chronic Pain Patients. J Ryan Scott, Afton L Hassett, Andrew D Schrepf, Chad M Brummett, Richard E Harris, Daniel J Clauw, Steven E Harte. Pain Medicine, 13 March 2018.

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