Alcohol and pain

Has anyone else noticed the impacts that alcohol consumption can have on pain and/or swelling?

Here’s why I’m wondering: I did a sober month b/c my wife wanted to which ended on Thanksgiving. That day I went bouldering and then had a big beer (22oz, 10%) with dinner. The next morning I noticed I had stiffness in my left ring finger but it didn’t hurt to climb on. I climbed and drank (not excessively, maybe 2-3 drinks/night) for the rest of the weekend and the pain continued, nothing extreme but noticeable.
I didn’t drink anything for 3 days and noticed the stiffness going away. Last night I had a beer and a cocktail and woke up to a stiffness in the finger.

I’ll continue to observe this but was wondering if anyone has had experience with this. Could it just be dehydration? Does alcohol cause inflammation?

I can’t speak to any knowledge that alcohol directly leads to inflation. But I know a lot of examples where friends have hurt fingers the day after drinking more than their usual. For me personally, almost nothing sabotages my climbing and / or training more than alcohol, so much so that I avoid it completely save for maybe <10 drinks a year!

I’m also on the roughly 10 drinks a year plan, so I can’t speak to it on personal experience.

I feel like it goes counter to the climber mystique of crushing beers around a camp fire and then rolling up to the crag the next mornibg, blazing blunts and sending but I unintentionally stopped drinking a couple years ago and I love it.

There probably isn’t a single aspect of my life and training that hasn’t improved since I stopped drinking. I never made the finger injury connection but that has also been less frequent

We are also living in a golden age of NA beer. So I still have beers with my friends plenty often they’re just not really beers


As far as I can understand from reading about it whether or not alcohol is inflammatory depends on the amount. Moderate amounts seem anti-inflammatory and that would inhibit recovery after training (at least for muscle tissue).

My layman’s understanding is that absent the inflammation the body doesn’t “know” (generally I’m not a fan of antropomorphising) that the tissues need to be remodelled. I’m not certain in what way alcohol is anti-inflammatory. NSAIDs are known to negatively impact the recovery from resistance training, maybe alcohol inhibits the acute post-exercise inflammatory process in a similar way?

Beyond that, I for one don’t get as restorative sleep if I’ve imbibed and that too would negatively impact recovery.

Most of the content I could find was on the impacts of alcohol on metabolism and hypertrophy. I didn’t find anything on tendons and connective tissue (yet). There’s this

But I’m not going to pay to read it.

I stopped drinking 2 years ago and I also can say that there isn’t an aspect of my life it HASN’T improved. I recover much better without it.

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I drink a fair bit and usually do a dry month or so every year. During those times my training goes really well (usually I line up a big training block for that time so I can’t say whether it’s not drinking or just my whole attitude/focus at the time that drives this) but I’ve never seen anything as acute as what you’re describing. If I had symptoms like that I’d be dry year round haha.

good thing you didn’t pay to read it. I have access through work, and besides being ~50 years old all it is is a single paragraph with no relation to what the original question was…