Functional Health: Alcohol and Chronic Pain
One of the most serious—but rarely discussed—conditions resulting from extended alcoholism is chronic pain. Medical science generally accepts that excessive use of alcohol can cause, or exacerbate, chronic pain symptoms. Unfortunately many people turn to alcohol as a way to cope with chronic pain symptoms.
Because of the areas of the mind and body targeted by the alcohol, it is common for alcoholic chronic pain sufferers to exhibit outward signs of intoxication even when sober, such as slurred speech, stumbling gait, and clumsiness.
If you frequently drink alcohol, let your doctor know! Generally, a pattern of heavy alcohol use for a period of ten years or more will be accompanied by symptoms. Further, alcoholics typically exhibit erratic eating habits, resulting in poor overall nutrient intake, and the damage to organs reduces the absorption of nutrients from food, causing the individual further medical complications and pain.
The first order of business, of course, is to bring your drinking and nutrition problems under control! If your alcohol consumption is not severely limited and adequate nourishment is not supplied, additional treatments will be futile and your symptoms will almost invariably compound. Beyond this, treatment will seek three main goals:
- To control symptoms
- To maximize and restore function (quality of life)
- To prevent further injury to the patient
Most treatments address these three tenets simultaneously. Pharmaceutical treatments include the use of painkillers, either prescription strength or over-the-counter (such as analgesics). Your doctor will probably recommend the lightest use of pain medication possible; this is very important if you, as an alcoholic, have a propensity for substance abuse. During a period of withdrawal, you are especially vulnerable to new addiction. Be aware of this danger, and monitor use of any medications very carefully.
Because of the underlying nutritional deficit, you may also benefit from a system of nutritional supplements and multivitamins. Consult a dietician or your healthcare provider to ensure the proper replenishment of nutrients necessary to prevent or minimize your chronic pain symptoms.
Establishing healthier habits (which are themselves advisable for all any patient) can be instrumental in replacing the drinking routine that caused or exacerbated the problem with a healthier routine that may help decrease your chronic pain symptoms.
Although your chronic pain may be permanent, your prognosis can be very good if you are able to replenish your nutrition and stop drinking. You probably won’t see substantial recovery from chronic pain symptoms for several months. But, you’ll see subjective improvements in lifestyle and health almost immediately when you quit drinking, as a result of general detoxification.
It is vital to your quality of life that you find help! Contact us right away—we are ready to give expert, judgment-free guidance to help you adjust your lifestyle and stop symptoms of chronic pain in their tracks.
Please call us at 781-659-7989 to schedule an evaluation!