Why do My Shoulders Hurt When I Drink?

Have you ever experienced an unexpected twinge or discomfort in your shoulders while enjoying a drink? It’s not uncommon for some people to wonder why their shoulders seem to hurt when they consume alcohol. In this article, we will explore why do your shoulders hurt when you drink, providing you with a natural and conversational perspective.

Why Is your Shoulder Bothering You? 

Shoulder pain can be a real buzzkill when trying to have a good time. It’s important to realize that this discomfort can arise from various factors. Before we dive into the connection between shoulder pain and alcohol, let’s get familiar with some of the usual suspects when it comes to shoulder discomfort.

Muscle Tension

First up muscle tension. This is a frequent culprit for shoulder pain. If you’ve been under stress, practising poor posture, or overworking those shoulder muscles, you might experience some discomfort.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

Ever heard of the rotator cuff? It’s a group of muscles and tendons that help you move your shoulder joint. Injuries to this area can lead to persistent shoulder pain and limit your mobility.

Nerve Compression

Sometimes, the pain in your shoulder may be caused by nerve compression, which can happen in your neck or upper back and radiate to your shoulder.

Referred Pain

Referred pain is another tricky one. This occurs when pain originates in one part of your body but is felt in another due to nerve pathways.

Top Four Reason’s That’s Why Your Shoulders Hurt When You Drink?

Now, let’s get to the interesting part – the relationship between alcohol and shoulder pain. Here’s why you might experience shoulder discomfort when you’re sipping on a drink:


Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it increases urine production and can lead to dehydration. Dehydrated muscles and tissues are more prone to tension and pain, often in the shoulders.

Alcohol’s Muscle-Relaxing Effect

Alcohol is known for its relaxation properties, which can make us unconsciously slouch or have poor posture when we’re enjoying our favourite beverage. This can, in turn, strain our shoulder muscles and lead to discomfort.

Inflammation and Hangovers

Excessive drinking can cause inflammation in various parts of your body, including the shoulder joints. The inflammation can lead to pain and discomfort, which is often intensified the morning after drinking, known as a hangover.

Accidents and Falls

Let’s not forget that alcohol impairs coordination and balance. This makes us more accident-prone and susceptible to falls. A sudden fall or injury can result in shoulder pain, even if it’s not directly alcohol-related.

Why Does Your Shoulder Hurt When You Drink Water? 

Shoulder pain when drinking water is not a common symptom, but various factors could cause it. While I’m not a doctor, I can suggest three possible reasons for shoulder pain when drinking water:

Reflux or Heartburn

Acid reflux, also known as heartburn, can cause a burning sensation in the chest and sometimes radiate to the shoulders. When you swallow water, it can temporarily worsen the discomfort, especially if you have recently consumed acidic or spicy foods or beverages.

Muscular Strain

If you’ve recently engaged in physical activities that strain your shoulder muscles or have poor posture while drinking, it can lead to muscular discomfort or pain when raising your arm to drink water.

Nerve Compression or Irritation

Issues with the nerves in the neck or upper back could potentially cause referred pain to the shoulder region. In some cases, when you tilt your head back to drink, it may exacerbate nerve-related pain.

What Can You Do to Ease Your Shoulder Pain? 

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having shoulder pain when you’re out for a drink, there are a few strategies you can try to alleviate or prevent it:

Stay Hydrated

To combat the dehydrating effects of alcohol, make sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your drinking session. Staying hydrated can help reduce muscle tension and discomfort.

Be Mindful of Your Posture

Consciously maintain good posture while drinking. Try to avoid slouching or hunching, which can put extra strain on your shoulder muscles.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Remember, moderation is key. Reducing your alcohol intake can decrease the likelihood of experiencing shoulder pain and inflammation.

Warm-Up and Stretch

Before and after you indulge in alcohol, consider doing some gentle shoulder stretches and exercises to prevent muscle tension and improve circulation in the area.

Take Pain Relievers Sparingly

If you find yourself with shoulder pain while drinking, over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide temporary relief. However, it’s essential not to rely on them too heavily.

Seek Medical Advice

If your shoulder pain persists or becomes severe, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional. They can help diagnose and treat any underlying conditions or injuries that might be causing the pain.

Preventing Shoulder Pain in the First Place

Prevention is always better than a cure, right? Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of experiencing shoulder pain when you drink:

Know Your Limits

Understanding your alcohol tolerance and drinking in moderation can help you avoid the negative effects that excessive alcohol consumption can have on your body, including shoulder pain.

Choose Your Drinks Wisely

Different types of alcohol can have varying effects on your body. Pay attention to how your body responds to different types of alcohol, and choose accordingly.

Stay Active

Regular physical activity can help you maintain good posture and overall muscle health. Engaging in regular exercise can strengthen your shoulder and back muscles.

Practice Good Drinking Habits

Eating a balanced meal before drinking, pacing your alcohol consumption, and avoiding binge drinking can all contribute to a more enjoyable and pain-free drinking experience.

Listen to Your Body

Always pay attention to the signals your body is sending you. If you start feeling discomfort in your shoulders or anywhere else, consider taking a break from drinking or switching to non-alcoholic beverages.

Final Words

Shoulder pain when drinking alcohol can be a real buzzkill, but it’s often manageable with some awareness and preventive measures. Remember that if your shoulder pain persists or worsens, it’s crucial to seek professional medical advice to rule out any underlying issues. In the end, moderation and a mindful approach to alcohol consumption can go a long way in preventing shoulder pain and ensuring a safer and more enjoyable drinking experience. Cheers to that!

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