If you experience lower back pain after drinking alcohol, it can be great cause for concern. Usually, the symptoms you experience after drinking alcohol consist of headaches, nausea, dehydration, brain fog, and more.
So, when your lower back hurts the morning after a night of drinking, it obviously creates worry. After all, this can be a sign of kidney damage. But, it could also be a wide variety of other things that have simply been exacerbated from alcohol. So how do you tell the difference?
We’ll help you uncover what the exact reason for your pain is, and how to determine when you should visit a doctor or hospital.
Why does my lower back hurt after I drink alcohol?
Pain felt in your lower back after drinking alcohol is typically occurring in the kidneys. This is where alcohol is processed and broken down, and depending on the type and quantity of alcohol you consumed, it can be really taxing.
Frequency matters too, though. If you are a binge drinker your kidneys will be working overtime. Let’s talk a bit about the kidneys and their role.
Where are the kidneys located, and what is their role?
The kidneys are located in your lower back, just under your ribs. There is one on each side of your spine.
As we briefly touched on above, they are responsible for filtering your blood. Part of this is removing toxins, one of which is alcohol. If you drink frequently, or have a night where you binge drink, they’ll have to work super hard to eliminate the “poison” you fed your body.
What are the different types of kidney issues that alcohol can cause or worsen?
There are actually quite a few different causes of kidney pain that can arise as a result of drinking alcohol. From simple dehydration all the way to a full blown kidney infection, we’ll cover them all below.
The most simple cause of lower back pain after drinking is dehydration. This is the most common symptom of a hangover, and is characterized by a pounding headache oftentimes.
But occasionally, severe dehydration can cause cramps, and even lower back pain after drinking alcohol.
The reason this happens is because alcohol prevents your kidneys from keeping the correct balance of water and electrolytes in the body.
The solution for this is pretty simple – rehydrate. There are all kinds of fancy drinks that promise to hydrate you up to 500% more efficiently, but you really cannot go wrong with water.
Not only can this cause pain in your kidneys, but it heightens the chance of the next problem we will discuss: kidney stones.
A heavy night of drinking will likely not cause kidney stones, but frequent drinking can. Chronic dehydration can lead to the build up of calcium in your kidneys, which will form stones over time.
If you are unaware, passing these stones can be some of the most excruciatingly painful experiences ever. If you already have them in your kidneys, drinking alcohol will make them worse.
The remedy for kidney stones is, unfortunately, just to pass them. You can get them pulverized surgically, but this is costly and usually just as painful as passing them yourself.
There are natural remedies that can make the process less miserable, along with medication a doctor can prescribe.
One of the more serious causes of lower back pain after drinking alcohol is a kidney infection. This is a form of UTI which begins in your urethra or bladder before moving to one (or both) of your kidneys.
You can start to heal the infection by drinking plenty of water. But, this is one of the issues that requires medical intervention, as antibiotics are necessary to remedy it. If not treated quickly, a kidney infection can result in hospitalization or surgery.
Hydronephrosis is a condition where your kidneys become swollen due to accumulation of urine. This isn’t the result of simply not urinating, and holding it too long. It’s actually caused by a blockage that prevents urine from properly draining from your kidney to your bladder.
It can be made worse from drinking alcohol, as your kidneys will just become more agitated than they already were.
This requires medical attention, as there are two possibilities: kidney stones or a kidney infection. Either one of these can create blockages that prevent urine from passing to the bladder, and require intervention or antibiotics to remove the blockage.
Another possible cause of kidney pain after drinking alcohol is gastritis. It occurs when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed or swollen, which usually results from heavy, frequent drinking.
This is actually not an illness related to the kidneys at all, but the pain can be felt right around the kidneys, leading many to mistake it as kidney pain.
To treat gastritis, you’ll need to avoid alcohol consumption, pain killers, or any inflammatory foods that can exacerbate the issue.
Some report relief through the use of antacids, and in severe cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce the build-up of acid which irritates your stomach lining.
Chronic Kidney Disease
The long term result of frequent binge drinking can be chronic kidney disease. When your kidneys have to work too hard, too often, it damages them.
This can lead to high blood pressure, serious kidney pain, and eventually, kidney failure. At this point, you’ll need dialysis or a transplant.
Can kidneys heal after alcohol damage?
If you catch alcohol-related kidney damage early, and stop drinking, you can likely see a complete recovery. However, there will reach a point where irreversible damage will occur.
And, even if you catch the degeneration early, there is still some risk the kidneys will take damage that cannot be reversed.
Final Thoughts On Lower Back Pain After Drinking Alcohol
In summary, lower back pain in the morning after a heavy night of drinking is likely your kidneys. If you frequently drink in heavy quantities, you may need to take some time off.
If not, you run the risk of doing permanent damage to your kidneys. More often than not, simply rehydrating and abstaining from alcohol is all it takes to alleviate kidney pain. If it persists, however, you’ll need to visit a doctor.
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Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.