We’ve all done stupid stuff after too many drinks — like, in my case, trying to tackle a stop sign. And now science is here to tell us that, yes, you probably feel less pain after a few drinks.
The study, published in The Journal of Pain in December 2016 but making the rounds online this week, involved 18 experiments with a total of 404 participants who were administered pain threshold and intensity tests based on alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The new findings concluded that, “alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity.”
That magic tipping point seems to be around a blood alcohol content (BAC) level 0.08, which also happens to be the legal limit at which you would be charged with a DUI. The study abstract doesn’t detail exactly how this happens and whether it’s related to pain receptors or maybe just the fact you’re more relaxed after knocking back a few.
But there’s a darker side to the study.
While some may interpret this as a good, thing, the study itself notes that this pain-dulling effect, “could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain despite its potential consequences for long-term health.”
In other words, this could be a contributing factor to why some people who experience physical pain drink alcohol, and it could drive more studies which may lead to “raising awareness of alternative, less harmful pain interventions to vulnerable patients,” the study notes.
After all, a few drinks every day for days on end to deal with physical pain isn’t only going to add a few pounds, it’s going to adversely affect other parts of your body as well and a cause a whole mess of other issues.
Not to mention if you’re drinking beer to deal with physical pain, you’re probably not doing anything to actually help treat that pain. You’re just masking it with a few IPAs.
It’s all about the moderation.
It’s also important to remember that, while this is an analysis of many experiments, it’s not the end of the line for this kind of research.
As anyone who thinks science is a good thing knows, it’s going to take loads more work to come up with a well-rounded view of how alcohol and pain relate to one another.
So please, take this shot with a rim full of salt.