Have Fibromyalgia? Have a Drink… Maybe

alcohol neck pain fibromyalgia

Drinking to excess is unlikely to help neck pain from fibromyalgia or any cause.

It might seem counterintuitive but alcohol might actually reduce fibromyalgia symptoms, such as neck pain, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic. The mechanism behind this appears to be the boost in levels of an inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), triggered by low to moderate alcohol consumption but the conclusion is presented with some degree of caution as a number of drugs for fibromyalgia can interact badly with alcohol.

Should fibro patients with neck pain have a glass of wine or a beer to relieve symptoms, then, or is it safer to stick to teetotalism for fibromyalgia?

Quality of Life Better with Alcohol

The conclusions borne out of this latest analysis of data found that those patients with fibromyalgia whose alcohol consumption was low to moderate had less severe symptoms than patients who didn’t drink at all. Patients’ quality of life was also higher and the GABA-agonist effect of alcohol is thought to be a likely cause of this association. However, it may be that patients whose symptoms are particularly bad and who take higher doses of drugs for fibromyalgia are also more likely to avoid drinking alcohol because of caution over medication interacting with alcohol and general concern for healthy lifestyle choices.

Do Fibromyalgia Patients Avoid Alcohol Consumption?

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that 51.5% of adults over 18 years of age in the US drink regularly and that 13.6% drink infrequently. In contrast, more than half (58%) of the patients with fibromyalgia included in this study did not drink alcohol at all. Low levels of alcohol consumption (less than three drinks a week) were reported by 36% of patients and 3% reported either moderate (3-7 drinks a week) or heavy (more than 7 drinks a week) alcohol consumption.

Drinkers are Better Educated, Use Fewer Drugs and Have Steady Employment

Interestingly, drinkers tended to have higher levels of education, a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) and a lower frequency of unemployment and opioid use than those who didn’t drink at all. Again, this could be because those with severe fibromyalgia symptoms do not have the same capacity for study and work as those with less severe symptoms and that these patients also feel less inclined to engage in activities, such as drinking, that could compromise health further. After taking these differences into account the researchers also noted that drinkers and non-drinkers had variations in the number of tender points, physical function, job ability and work missed, and pain, general health perception and social functioning. Drinkers with low to moderate alcohol consumption had less severe fibromyalgia symptoms and better quality of life than both non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.

GABA for Fibromyalgia

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and it is known to be diminished in the brain in fibromyalgia, meaning that neural pathways are more sensitive and that the nervous system is more responsive to pain than in those without the condition. One of the effects of alcohol is that it binds to the GABA receptor in the central nervous system, dulling pain and responsiveness. Although this may make some people more accident-prone when drinking heavily, it could provide benefit to those with this increased sensitivity to pain. The researchers also pointed out that alcohol can have a positive effect on mood, aid socialization and reduce isolation, anxiety and tension and that this could be a factor in the lower symptom severity in fibromyalgia patients who consume alcohol at low to moderate levels.

Have Fibromyalgia? Have a Drink… Maybe

The study’s authors, led by Terry H. Oh, MD, from the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota,.suggested that “future studies should examine whether alcohol could have a salutary effect on pain and other symptoms in fibromyalgia.” They expressed caution over extrapolating the findings however, as there were only small numbers of heavy and moderate drinkers in the group. They do not suggest fibromyalgia patients start or increase drinking alcohol to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms such as neck pain.


Chul H Kim, Ann Vincent, Daniel J Clauw, Connie A Luedtke, Jeffrey M Thompson, Terry D Schneekloth and Terry H Oh, Association between alcohol consumption and symptom severity and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia, Arthritis Res Ther. 2013;15:R42. Published online March 15, 2013.

While this research may suggest fibromyalgia patients see some benefit from low to moderate alcohol consumption the same is not true for most neck pain patients: Find out why alcohol should be avoided by those with degenerative disc disease and don’t forget to follow PainNeck on Facebook for future updates on all causes of neck pain.

193 replies
  1. Jan
    Jan says:

    Great post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am
    impressed! Very useful info specifically the
    closing part 🙂 I take care of such information a lot.
    I was looking for this particular information for a very lengthy time.
    Thanks and best of luck.

    Here is my web blog Jan

  2. zorivareworilon
    zorivareworilon says:

    I cling on to listening to the newscast talk about getting boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i get some?

  3. http://tinyurl.com/2atuppu9
    http://tinyurl.com/2atuppu9 says:

    Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?
    I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. However just imagine if you added some great photos or videos
    to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with
    pics and videos, this blog could undeniably be one of the
    very best in its field. Terrific blog!

  4. http://t.co/g6UttG0yWA
    http://t.co/g6UttG0yWA says:

    Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I am inspired!
    Extremely useful info particularly the remaining phase :
    ) I take care of such information a lot. I
    was looking for this certain information for a very long time.
    Thank you and best of luck.

  5. http://tinyurl.com
    http://tinyurl.com says:

    Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be
    running off the screen in Ie. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with
    internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post
    to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get
    the problem solved soon. Thanks

  6. http://tinyurl.com
    http://tinyurl.com says:

    I will immediately grasp your rss as I can’t to find
    your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service.

    Do you’ve any? Please allow me recognize in order that I could subscribe.

  7. tinyurl.com
    tinyurl.com says:

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You clearly know what youre talking about, why waste your
    intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  8. http://tinyurl.com
    http://tinyurl.com says:

    Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar
    one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback?
    If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
    I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any help is very much appreciated.

  9. raycon
    raycon says:

    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added-
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    There has to be a means you can remove me from that service?

    Thank you!

    Here is my page … raycon


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.