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The Effects of Alcohol on Muscles and Joints

The Effects of Alcohol on Muscles & Joints

Alcohol is one such substance that can lead to lasting damage, posing a serious threat to a person’s physical and mental health.

Our muscles and joints are especially prone to damage and inefficiency because they are essential for aiding our body’s movements. Serious consequences may result from the compromise of these essential elements, causing substantial difficulties in our day-to-day activities. Banyan Treatment Centers Heartland examines the negative effects of alcohol on muscles and joints, as well as the potential risks alcohol poses and how crucial it is to comprehend how it affects our physical health.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Muscular System?

With time, alcohol can have a permanent negative effect on the muscular system in addition to short-term impairment. When alcohol is used regularly, the toxins it contains can gradually damage our muscles and joints, leading to a variety of negative repercussions. The duration and severity of these issues are significantly influenced by the quantity and frequency of alcohol use.

Some of the possible alcohol effects on muscles include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Decreased muscle efficiency
  • Arthritis
  • Type II muscle fiber atrophy
  • Alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis

Making wise choices about alcohol intake requires an understanding of the substantial effects that it can have on the musculoskeletal system. By being aware of the dangers and effects, people may take action to put their physical health first and, if necessary, get the support they need.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Muscular System

The damage will depend a lot on the amount of alcohol regularly consumed, the presence of an alcohol abuse disorder, and the length of time of this condition. As a provider of Illinois addiction treatment for alcohol, we understand that for many alcoholics, these effects may seem harmless and worth it, but the long-term effects of alcohol on muscles can be much more severe.


For some people, alcohol’s effects on the joints and muscles may extend to arthritis. This condition is the result of inflamed joints and can make movement painful. While moderate drinking has been found to reduce the risk of developing arthritis, heavy drinking can cause more alcohol joint inflammation that may irritate rheumatoid arthritis and gout. 5 People with this condition may experience a substantial amount of joint pain after drinking alcohol in excess.

Type II Muscle Fiber Atrophy

A possible long-term effect of alcohol on the muscular system is type II muscle fiber atrophy. Type II muscle fibers are considered fast-twitch muscle fibers that are anaerobic. They are used for faster reactions but fatigue easily. Atrophy is the gradual decrease in muscle mass and strength that can make movements harder. In one study of chronic alcoholics, 33% of them had type II muscle fiber atrophy.4 This condition can lead to noticeably impaired movements, especially after an extended time of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol-Induced Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscles. Because of alcohol’s effects on muscle tissues, one of the major causes of rhabdomyolysis is chronic alcohol use. In one study, as many as 67% of nontraumatic rhabdomyolysis cases involved alcohol.1 Not only does it leave a person weak, but this condition also includes the release of myoglobin, a damaging protein, into the bloodstream that can harm the kidneys. Early detection of rhabdomyolysis can minimize the damage.

Some signs of alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis include:

  • Extreme muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dark urine
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness

If a person is experiencing a damaging correlation between muscular development, alcohol, and joint pain, it is important that all facets of their condition are properly addressed. Thankfully, some of the effects of alcohol on muscles and joints may be reversed. Studies found that abstinence from drinking after an alcohol detox led to improvements in muscle functions in many subjects.2 Unfortunately, the longer and more severe the drinking problem, the less likely that this is true. For example, catching and treating rhabdomyolysis early can help people avoid more serious damage, but a late diagnosis could lead to permanent kidney damage.3

At our Heartland treatment center, we help people stop drinking or using drugs so they can move forward with their lives. Our Heartland detox program for alcohol is an excellent option to help patients navigate the dangerous and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms of this disease. Addiction can have lasting negative physical effects on the body, so it is better to stop early.

If you or a loved one has a drinking or drug problem, act now. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our programs at Banyan Heartland.


  1. JABFM - Nontraumatic Rhabdomyolysis with Long-Term Alcohol Intoxication
  2. NCBI - Alcoholic skeletal myopathy, a clinical and pathological study.
  3. NCBI - Acute kidney injury due to rhabdomyolysis and renal replacement therapy: a critical review
  4. NCBI - Significance of type II fiber atrophy in chronic alcoholic myopathy.
  5. Medical News Today - How does alcohol affect rheumatoid arthritis?

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Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.