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Quitting Drinking Pain in Joints – What to Do? How Long Does It Last?

by | Stop Drinking Alcohol | 54 comments

Have you got pain in your joints since you stopped drinking alcohol? What should you do? How long will it last?

The question today was ‘I’ve got pain in my joints since I stopped drinking. What should I do about it? What can I do about it?’

It might be more coincidental if I’m honest with you.

It’s more than likely.

There’s not really much evidence that quitting alcohol is going to cause you pain in your joints.

There’s normally something that’s been there and suppressed by all the drinking.

You’re drunk and you don’t feel it.

I don’t know.

The best thing to do would be to go down to your doctor.

What I can help you with is to examine what you’re doing now that you’ve stopped drinking because that’s probably where the fault lies if it’s not an underlying condition.

That’s probably nothing to do with the alcohol.

It might be something that you’re eating now, something that you’re drinking now, something that you’ve replaced the alcohol with that’s causing you problems.

It could be gout which is pain in the joints that’s often caused by purine, and that could be found in alcohol and protein-rich foods like meat.

But, when you’re talking about alcohol drinking and gout, it’s mostly caused through drinking alcohol.

So, if you’ve got gout, one of the first things your doctor is going to ask you is ‘do you drink?’ and to stop drinking because that’s going to exacerbate the problem.

It’s going to add to the levels of purine in your body.

The only thing to do is to look at your diet and see which protein-rich foods you’re eating.

It could be arthritis as well- gout is a form of arthritis.

Alcohol doesn’t really cause arthritis but it can interfere with medications that you’re taking for arthritis.

I don’t know whether these symptoms are coming up because you’ve quit drinking or what.

People who drink heavily usually don’t eat very often either, so there are a lot of vitamin deficiencies.

So you’ve got vitamin deficiencies of B1, B6…I suppose all nutrients will start to suffer in your body because you’re not eating the proper, nutritious diet.

I mean, I certainly didn’t.

I can go back and talk about my diet until the cows come home because it was basically when I didn’t drink that I ate good.

When I was cooking for my son, I tried to cook him different foods, foods that were nutritional most of the time.

Obviously, when I had a hangover, I couldn’t do that.

But for the most part, I ate a shit diet.

It wasn’t great at all.

The best thing to do is go and visit your doctor. Person to person, they can check you out and see what the problem is.

At least they can narrow it down better than I can.

I’m not a doctor.

But at least I know that I used to get pain in my joints a lot more than I do now, and that was partly due to the alcohol consumption and partly due to the crappy food that I ate.

More crappy food leads to more crappiness, basically.

Sorry if I’m not a great help with this one.

With these medical problems, they’re more often than not due to the amount of alcohol that you consumed in the past.

That’s one area where a doctor can help.

You can find relief from your doctor that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

I can give you all the inspirational help for quitting drinking, but as far as actions, I can’t do anything.

If you have any questions, suggestions for this guy, then leave them down below.

If you’ve experienced pain in your joints as a result of drinking or not drinking, then leave our experiences down below.

I’d love to hear them and I’m sure anyone who is suffering from this would love to hear them as well.

Come on over to the website if you want the audio of this.

Sign up for the newsletter and there’s a free course on how to relax and destress without alcohol.


Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards!

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  1. Art

    I wonder if the guy who is suffering knee pain has put on a lot of weight since quitting. Obviously, if your knee joints are a bit rickety in the first place, and then you pile on the weight, you’re in for knee pain. Well….just a thought.
    Enjoying your daily audios Kevin ….as I walk the coastal path…..Holywood to Bangor in Northern Ireland.

  2. Tony

    Day 8 for me today I think my pain is a underlying condition I look at my family sister brother mum dad aunt all have joint pain’s and two of them really don’t drink at all maybe Christmas a wedding kinda thing only yet they have pain for myself I’m also a heavy smoker I’m 56 years old and to be honest I’ve used alcohol all my life so I guess the pain is because of many factors I would take Kevin’s advice and go see. Your GP about it. By the way good luck at staying of the hooch Tony B

  3. Liz Hahn

    I found this video interesting because I have just stopped drinking wine for 1 week and already I no longer have aching and painful joints. This is quite the opposite of the person you are speaking about in this video.

    In only 1 week I have observed many benefits of quitting this useless habit of pouring a bottle of wine down my throat almost nightly. Its just a stupid habit without any value but it just had become a routine which lasted some 20+ years. Its crazy how we become creatures of habit and continue doing things which have no benefit to us but harm us in the end.

    Thanks for your video’s I look forward to them!


    • Kevin O'Hara

      I had the same, my joints stopped aching when I stopped

    • Gen

      Liz – did you keep it up?

  4. Jason English


    I have 2 questions

    1 Did you use AA or stop cold turkey on your own. What are your thoughts about AA
    2 What are your thoughts about drinking non-alcoholic beer in the beginning just to get through the first 30 days?

    • Kevin O'Hara

      Hi Jason, thanks for the comments and questions. I never used AA, just stopped on my own. I don’t really have much of an opinion about AA. I don’t think it’s very successful for the individual unless you keep going. I think many people leave their addictions for alcohol behind only to replace them with addictions to AA. This is shown time and time again with people who are still going to the AA after many years.
      My thoughts on drinking non-alcoholic beer in the beginning, just to get through the first 30 days… I’m in two minds. First, if it helps you to get through those 30 days, so be it. Second, replacements can be a bad idea. It depends on the person. For some people, replacements only keep the old habit alive. The whole idea is to kill the alcohol habit and replace it with something less harmful and more valuable to you as a person.

      • Bridie Page

        I’ve been drinking on and off for about twenty five years…I did go to AA, but after a bit I couldn’t be bothered with it. I have had months and months being alcohol free and felt better, but I always went back to it…not to get drunk, but to take the edge off my anxiety.
        I have recently given it up and am on my 14th day without it. No withdrawal symptoms ( I’m lucky for that) I’m determined this time to pack it in for good. I’ve done Christmas ans New Year without it before and I will do it again…
        I’m so glad I found your site, I was interested to find out about joint pain being a side effect but think it’s something else…thanks

      • Clyde Langstein

        AA won’t kill you like alcohol

    • Kristen

      I use a non alcoholic beverage in the evenings when im craving. The ritual of preparing the drink, plus a strong or familiar taste definitely helped me stay sober. Good luck. EVERYTHING GETS BETTER when you quit drinking.
      4.5 months sober!!

  5. Bev

    I too have pain in my joints since giving up drinking. I think it’s because I have more energy and have become more active. I’m busy doing something all the time, not lazing around with a drink in my hand

    I’m working muscles that I have hardly broken a sweat in years. I think that’s what’s causing MY joint pain. What a wonderful problem to have if that is indeed the cause ?. ?

    • David Curtin

      Better to be addicted to AA than alcohol .

      • AimingHigh

        I think the point is that there are superior methods / approaches to AA.

    • Gerry

      I get more than joint pain every time I quit drinking I get huge gout attacks. I stop drinking for a month 2-3 times a year and it happens everytime. So glad I’m not alone. My diet changes but for the better so I doubt it would be it. I thinks lots of beer flush the acid out. Many more trips to the washroom anyway..Food for thought?

      • Julie

        I stopped drinking 2 weeks ago and I have intense joint pain. This happens every time I take “breaks” or “resets” from alcohol.

        • Jonathan

          OMG, Thank God I am not the only one that is experiencing this. I thought I was going insane. I gave up drinking 2 week ago, and these last few days I have been having intense joint and ankle pain. I had been diagnosed with gout in the past, and I noticed as I was getting older the attacks became more severe and lasted longer. I finally said I had enough I’m done, and committed to getting healthy again. But here I am searching for answers because of my mind numbing joint pain. Crazy part is I have been eating super healthy and hydrating these last few weeks. I’m drinking more water, eating more leafy greens, even went to so far as to buy powered collagen. Still sever pain. But now I’m seriously thinking about taking a trip to the wine store, to have a drink or two just to make it stop.

          • Roy

            I look at the comments on joint pain . It’s alcohol neuropathy . If you have been drinking heavily for a long period of heavy binge drinking its nerve damage . Pain innlegs and hips . Burning. Genitalia pain . Joints . Vitamin deficiency . Alcohol has masked this .

        • AimingHigh

          Has anyone who experiences the joint pain tried reducing their alcohol intake very gradually? There’s a big biochemistry change going on, so it certainly seems possible that sudden cessation could cause joint pain. Just wondering if other folks (who have experienced the joint pain) have also tried really gradual reduction & how your joints felt during / afterwards?

  6. julian

    Hi There

    I have beeen to Rehab after 30 years of excessive drinking and I am now 43 days clean.

    I have pain in my hips and the top and centre of my back since I stopped drinking.
    As you say maybe the alcohol masked the problem and at was existing.

    I will go to the Doctor and get some advise.

    Thanks for the video and the good work you do.



  7. Joy

    I have also suffered joint pain since giving up drinking. I am 6 months sober and on waking everyday my body aches.After I begin moving about it does ease but I think I will visit my GP for a blood test to rule out possible arthritis. Thanks for the question initially, I was wondering if I was the only one suffering and thanks for the video answer.

    • Jenn

      Joy…did you see your GP? I have the same symptoms…about 5 months sober. Just curious.

      • Cat

        Me too! Almost 6 mos sober and moderate joint pain. My theory is that while alcohol no doubt was causing damage in some areas, it was also providing stress relief and therefore cooling inflammation down. My sobriety has finally unleashed my inner hothead – a quality I was managing through drinking for years. Now since I don’t have my usual shut down valve, my body is inflamed. Mind body connection is what it’s all about. I’m working on trying to find other ways to get there but I miss my magic bullet. I just know that I can’t go back to where I was and I’m hanging in there. Did yours eventually go away?

  8. Kaiyya

    Hi I’m 49 and drink most evenings a bottle or 2! Of wine as it’s my lifestyle usually 5 days out of a week
    I’ve stopped 4 days ago as also trying to loose weight.. but I’m getting more cramp now than ever leg and feet cramp 4 times woke me last night it’s awful…. I take iron also as I used to get cramp years ago but I’m now eating all protein and no carbs no bread no butter nothing bad just ham pork beef salads beans peppers liver etc
    Should I be worried?
    I must add I don’t even feel like a drink tbh, I’ve also had an awful headache every day these last 4 days something I never ever get ever! Not even after a good few drinks …. any advice please greatly accepted and well done to everyone on here who has stopped and is trying X

  9. Kunal kumar

    Hi im around 7 mnths sobre nd my body aches with anxiety sumtimes but i guess quitting drinks sumtime will prove a good choice??

  10. Alex Kutler

    Well I came here searching for “quitting alcohol and muscle aches”. I did not have muscles aches when i was drinking alcohol. After quitting for a few months, things have started to worsen instead of getting better. Muscle aches, arthritis, depression, insomnia, digestive system problems. Things are getting worse. I am not sure what to do now.

    • A Barbara Dorsey

      Alex Kutler, about 2 weeks after I quit cold turkey I had incredible joint pain in my hands and feet. It was debilitating pain, it as I moved about my day it went away. It was agony to stand on my own feet. I bet this went on for a good couple of months. I found no explanations. I began to be sure I ate very healthy foods and took vitamins and turmeric and liver cleansing supplements. It’s gone now. My insomnia is still with me. I just finally accept the fact that I need less sleep now. In fact, I think the fact that I always seemed to have problems getting settled and falling asleep was a huge reason why I drank at night. Looking over your other gripes, I went from what I thought was IBS to normal digestion but that took time too. I do put fiber in my coffee or tea. Almost 2 years out, I do yoga 2-3 x a week in a class and it has really made such a difference with my serenity and sense of well being. I went 30 years without exercise. Hang in there, it’s soooo worth the temporary bad stuff.

      • Tamara

        Hi Barbara, Thank you so much for your input on this. I was hoping that by doing what you’re doing that it would help eventually so this gives me hope. I’m in so much constant pain that I’m always trying to find a way to make it stop, I’ve thought that maybe I should just have a couple of drinks to feel better, then I think maybe I have fibro, maybe cancer, I mean there really isn’t a lot that I haven’t considered to make this pain stop or to explain as to why it’s happening. My regular Dr. doesn’t know anything about this being a side effect of quitting drinking. I’ve turned yellow before, also had fluid retention that made me uncomfortable and had to get it “tapped” to remove some fluid and then start meds that I will have to take for the rest of my life. It’s crazy to think that these things had happened to me but yet I still drank…my breaking point was last September and I put myself into detox after yet another wonderful experience at the hospital and that was the beginning of the rest of my days on this planet as a clean and sober person, and I’m hoping to make them meaningful and enjoyable but it’s seeming impossible with all this pain.

        I’m 50, been drinking daily for 27 years and the last year I was drinking when I got up to make myself feel better and stop the shakes so I could go to work!! I can’t believe I did that now but at the time I rationalized it in my head…don’t ask me what I do for a living because that just makes it waaaayyyy worse that I did that regularly.

        Is your pain all gone now?

  11. Aron

    I turned yellow in Feb last year (18). I stopped drinking. I have picked up a moderate caffeine habit I didn’t have, and my sweets intake has upped. I’ve put on about 25 pounds since then. I first noticed it in my Achilles early on in quitting. When I would get up I couldn’t just start walking it was tight and had to loosen up. That has mostly subsided. Now if I sit on my knees which I do and did A LOT for making fires or just sitting on the floor I struggle to get up and it takes a minute for everything to loosen up. I’m 34.

  12. Here

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  13. Susan

    A year ago I got sober and for months my bones and joints ached. I saw my PC who did a work up for all sorts of things and found nothing. But within my blood work it said I had macros and other minor things wrong with my blood work that pointed to vitamin deficiencies.

    Basically, drinking for prolonged periods of time greatly affects your vitamin absorption. The kidneys expel magnesium 200x faster after just 1 drink. Alcoholics typically have magnesium and B vitamin deficiencies which help our heart, blood, calcium and bones. Talk to your doctor and be honest. They may recommend supplements. Eat foods rich in magnesium and B vitamins.

    • norm

      im 5 days in going cold turkey and my right foot ached then my toe then it moved up to the inside of my knees and side of my elbow it is not gout because i know gout very well it dosent pound like gout and it would have been in full bloom by now its something to do with wthdrawals sure i could take an anti infamitory that i have for gout but does not explain it

      • barry

        I have almost precisely the same experience as you describe including experience of gout. Did you get anywhere or does it just go away over time?

        • Kevin O'Hara

          All gone since I stopped drinking, I am pleased to say 🙂

  14. Susie

    I stopped 16 days ago. In my late 50’s and I have arthritis in my knees, had one replaced last year and was very happy with it. Since quitting this time my legs and joints hurt so much sometimes I walk like an old lady till I get going. First time I got sober was when I was in my early 30’s, stayed sober for 20 years and never had aches – just a lot of emotional and psychological stuff. Most of this I worked through with a lot of help. I got sober two years ago in a treatment center in Utah, which was cold and I had no problem with my joints. Only stayed sober a couple months. I must say this pain has made me more determined not to drink again, or even entertain the thought. I’m scared, I don’t want to end up unable to walk. This drinking game is getting serious now.

  15. Ed

    3 weeks sober and it started about a week and a half ago. All joints knees hips shoulders sometimes elbows wrists really hurt. As far as this severe joint pain was there and masked with alcohol? Absolutely not I wasn’t drinking 12 hours a day when I went to work. I never had joint pain then. Been drinking many many years. 54 years old. I hope it goes away in time…

  16. Benjamin Clerk

    I was a regular alcoholic. then in this lockdown, I’ve stopped as the bar here is shut down. now I’ve felt so much pain, what should I do about it? I want to stop it for permanent.

  17. Stu

    Quit 7 weeks ago. Glad to find people with similar pain. It started a couple of weeks in. Seems to be getting worse, or somewhat constant. Pain in shoulders lower back, hips, buttox, and really tight hamstrings.

    Alcohol damages muscles and prevents vitamins from being absorbed. Look up Alcoholic Myopathy.

    In the evening the pain is the worst. In the am after I get going it is better.

    Being sober is worth all the pain although I hear muscle damage is reversible. The scary part is if the heart muscle is damaged too much it is not reversible.

    Best to all

  18. Nicole

    I am 120 days sober after drinking a couple of bottles of wine every day for almost 35 years. About 2 weeks after quitting my right knee started hurting and it’s so painful. Keeps me awake at night, hard to walk when I first stand up from sitting, stairs are a nightmare too. It wasn’t there before, it’s only started just after I got sober. I hope it goes away, it’s so debilitating.

  19. Robin

    So glad to hear I’m not alone…after googling I really couldn’t find anything to explain my muscle and joint pain that started a couple days after I stopped drinking…my legs and ankles lock up especially when I first get up or sit for a prolonged time and my arthritis in my wrists and thumbs are so bad now compared to when I was drinking…so weird!!!
    It’s been exactly 8 weeks since I stopped drinking and I wonder how long this will last…forever?!?!?

  20. David

    I think it’s what someone said, myopathy. Gout would be felt all the time, and wouldn’t be suppressed by simple anti inflamatories.

    I went to the gym the entire time I was drinking, and doing a lot of cardio.

    The lack of vitamin absorption makes much more sense

  21. Warner Brown

    Nice work, keep doing
    Great information about this

  22. Jennifer

    I have been a binge drinker for about five years since I had a breakdown and tinnitus developed too. ENT said the tinnitus came because of the extremity of the breakdown. I gave up for 5 weeks but couldn’t stick to it. I have not had a drink in 3 weeks now. I was falling and not being able to get up. Walking was nigh on impossible for about 3 days each time I went over the score. Three times. Since I stopped 3 weeks ago my walking is improving slowly. The pains were in the tops and top of the back of my legs. My balance is improving slowly. However in the last three to four days I have pain in my toes like my feet are squeezed into shoes far too small for me. I get pain in the balls and soles of my feet, in my calves and just under my knees, but it is not constant and can come and go. Sometimes it comes and goes, or stays more than other times. I have been stuck indoors in the flat for months as well but I am loathe to believe lack of exercise is anything to do with it unless it is coming out now that I am not drinking and the booze is not hiding it. Too scared to drink again. I think I was drinking last time for about a week and didn’t eat for about 2 or 3 weeks. I have only started eating properly in the last week. I will add the b vitamins and thiamine as well. My GP gave me this last time. I would love any input please. I also get cold shivers, but not every day.

  23. Lisa S Theodore

    I am 66 and finally 30 days sober after many years of heavy drinking every nite. I had been experiencing heaviness in my legs and painful knees. I also have a problem with my balance at times. I have an appt. next month with my GP. Buy relieved to hear I am not the only one. experiencing this .

    • Matt

      I’ve experienced the same. A couple weeks after quitting started to get sore joints. Thought it was because I was more active although my work load and physical activity really didn’t change. However the pain seemed to get worse moving from my feet and ankles to hips back neck…..even into my fingers everything aches. Especially in the mornings as I get moving it fades but returns at night as I stop moving as much. Don’t know what it is but sure it has to do with drinking. I believe it will go away at some point as my body heals itself.

      • Tamara

        Hi Matt, I’m having exactly the same experience as you, in the exact same way from feet to head that I am going through now. How long has it been and has it changed? what have you tried to make it stop?

  24. Mike

    Hey Everyone, I thought this might be helpful. My wife takes about 50mg of vyvance daily and interestingly enough she stopped drinking alcohol about one month ago and has had a very soar neck and shoulders since she stopped. She used to average 3 glasses of wine per night for reference. As it turns out the alcohol was relaxing her countering the stiffness brought on by the Vyvance, and this was the case for years. She works out regularly and stretches but nothing has helped with the stiffness. Just something interesting learned as an indirect result of having stopped drinking – still better to be soar than be an alcoholic.

  25. Kevin ryan

    Did anyone get a resolution on the joint pain after quitting drinking? Six weeks of it and terrible pain in feet and got a hit of gout in my toe as well?

  26. Deon

    I have not watched this video, but I read most of the transcript and from what I saw, this guy doesn’t really buy into the fact that when you stop drinking you can get pain in your joints. I know that it is a real thing, I struggle with it, like so many other people. I am only commenting because there is almost no references to this on the internet. From what I have #Quitting Drinking Pain in Joints. The only answer I got was from a comment below from Daniel S who said that “The uric acid you’ve built up starts coming out en mass after you start detoxing.” Thank you Daniel. The answer then is to the lower uric acid levels, and prevention of urate crystal deposition. For which there is medication. I hope that this helps someone.

  27. Tamara

    I stopped drinking almost 4 months ago and almost immediately started having pain in my entire body, all day and night,so I have been desperately searching for a way to make it stop… which lead me here. I have tried a few things ie. different vitamin supplements, as I am under Dr.s care and know I am vitamin deficient but so far no luck and so far the only thing that has helped enough to the point where I can honestly say that I don’t feel too bad is acetaminophen, but that doesn’t fix the problem it just makes it not as bad for a limited time. Part of me feels like I should just have a drink and I’ll probably feel better but I’m fully aware that this option is a big no go. Then I think that maybe in time my body will fix it’s self from the damage I’ve done to it, then I think, what if this is pain I’ve had for a long time but all of my continuous drinking didn’t let me feel the pain? I have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers, it’s a bit frustrating but finding you and this video has actually helped. Even just knowing that other people are going through this or have gone through this helps. I’ll ask my specialist if he has any answers for me at my next appointment and post anything he says that might help with this chronic pain. Thanks for confirming I’m not insane and that this does actually happen to other people.

  28. Tamara

    Hi All, I just wanted to comment again with an update. I saw my specialist and he didn’t have any answers but I mentioned to him about something I found through my searches that accurately describes the pain, it’s called small fiber nephropathy, he did a small test and suggested I get a specialist in nephropathy. I saw my regular Dr. and he prescribed Pregabalin and I have to say that even with it being a small dose as we are experimenting it helped immediately! I was mostly pain free and felt like a million bucks because chronic pain had made everything miserable, I didn’t want to do anything, even small things like doing the dishes hurt but NOW, I just spent the whole day cleaning after working the past 3 nights in a very physically demanding job!! Honestly incredible.

    Small fiber nephropathy is when your nerve system isn’t working right and it sends pain singles to your body. My Dr. and I believe I may have had this for a while and that’s why I drank so much and that makes sense but this also could be a result of drinking excessively. Either way I’m happy to report that things are going better and hope that everyone here can find some sort of relief from your pain.

  29. bram

    hi im 50 years old i stopped drinking about for months ago now all my joints hurt so bad now that im reading all this comments from all of ya it makes feel much better to know that im not the only one and hoping withing some time the pain will go away .

    thanks you all.


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