Why do my shoulders cramp when I drink sugary alcohol?
December 23, 2012 11:37 AM   Subscribe

YANAD/YANMD: Why do my shoulders get crampy when I drink sugary, alcoholic drinks?

No one I've ever talked to has experienced this, but ever since I first started drinking alcohol (approx. age 13 till now, 27 years old) I get cramps in my shoulders when I drink sugary drinks, such as coolers (Mike's hard Lemonade and the like, vodka with grenadine and juice, etc) but not with other drinks, like cider, beer, or sparkling wine. When I drink sugary alcoholic drinks in fairly quick succession (i.e. 2 doubles within 1-1.5 hrs) I get cramps on the top of my shoulders, about where my bra straps lay against them. My bras do not make them cramp at other times, and the bras themselves do not seem to be the problem, as the cramps only occur when I drink certain types of drinks. Does anyone have any idea why this happens? Is it lactic acid or something like that?
posted by fruitopia to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't know why it happens... but just came in to say that I experience this as well w
ith sugary alcoholic drinks except my cramping is more around my pecs and less on my shoulders. I also get stomach cramping once in a while too.
I've been trying to explain this to friends for years, its comforting to know I'm not the only one.
posted by simplethings at 11:46 AM on December 23, 2012

Yup, I get it too. I also get a red face. I have Gilbert's syndrome which is a ridiculously non syndrome syndrome that affects your liver.

But it doesn't really.

I've, through amateur diagnosis, decided its because of that. Apparently lots of folk have Gilbert's.
posted by taff at 11:51 AM on December 23, 2012

I should add, in case you go googling....I don't go yellow. My only symptom is that it shows up on blood tests. And that I get sore shoulders when I drink sugary booze. If that's what actually causes it.
posted by taff at 11:54 AM on December 23, 2012

I don't know either, but one more vote for it happens to me.

It only happens with alcohol, invariably within a sip or two. Since I don't drink alcohol anyway it does not affect my quality of life, however, I am told that it is the physical manifestation of my excessive Puritanism and resulting unhealthy attitude to alcohol. Okay, whatever, I just wait for them to pass out and then I eat all their chocolate.
posted by tel3path at 12:05 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I get something like this, only it's more like an ache (a little like I'd pulled a muscle a day or two before), and it typically precedes or coexists with a tummy ache.
posted by kimota at 12:21 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Something something trigeminal or other cranial nerve?
posted by krilli at 12:23 PM on December 23, 2012

Best answer: Maybe the sugar/alcohol combo is messing with your blood sugar (i.e alcohol related hypoglycemia). Does eating something while you are drinking these sugary drinks do anything to prevent this? I would make sure to eat something while you are drinking - try almonds or peanuts, or a bit of another kind of protein, and see if that helps.
posted by gudrun at 12:52 PM on December 23, 2012

Response by poster: It could have something to do with blood sugar. Today when I started drinking I hadn't had anything to eat, so that is a possibility. I usually don't drink sugar-laden drinks, so it could be that. I haven't looked for a correlation between the two, so it's certainly something for me to keep track of! =)

I kind of love that other people have experienced this. My boyfriend just thought I was being drunk/weird and thought maybe my shoulders hurt before drinking, but I knew he was wrong! I guess that's really what I was looking for: validation that I wasn't alone in what I was experiencing and that it really does happen.
posted by fruitopia at 1:06 PM on December 23, 2012

I also get this--most often with Margaritas.
posted by chiefthe at 1:15 PM on December 23, 2012

Chiming in to say that I'm another one like you.
posted by greta simone at 1:29 PM on December 23, 2012

I have no idea what it is but I get this also. It doesn't happen with every beverage, or even every time with any beverage. But sometimes after having around one drink, my face will get flush, I'll feel hot, and my shoulders will cramp.
posted by smoq at 3:21 PM on December 23, 2012

So we still don't actually have an answer, just many fellow sufferers.

(The best best answer is one that offers either an informed or plausible explanation.)

I'll cross my fingers we get one before the Festive drinking starts!
posted by taff at 5:07 PM on December 23, 2012

Do you normally hold tension in your shoulders?

I get something similar to this, but it's always margaritas and it's always my jaw. I figured I must normally go around unwittingly clenching my jaw, and when I drink my jaw (and I) finally relax and the ache comes from that release in tension.

I've never thought to associate it with the sugar in drinks - glad to know I'm not the only one who has random alcohol side affects.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:30 PM on December 23, 2012

This happens to me, especially with rum & coke. Whenever I mention it to anyone they look at me like I'm nuts. I'm sorry it happens to you, but also glad to hear I'm not alone. I don't have any answers for you.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:10 PM on December 23, 2012

Do you stay hydrated most of the time? I wonder if it's mild dehydration, exacerbated by the diuretic effects of the alcohol. Personally, I've found that sugar is not helpful for hydration. Add alcohol and that can't be too helpful.

Or maybe it's potassium/magnesium issues?
posted by icanbreathe at 10:25 PM on December 23, 2012

I get this sometimes after eating breakfast... So I just stopped eating breakfast. It's a sortof dull ache....
posted by nile_red at 4:15 AM on December 24, 2012

This is sort of amazing. Last night I had a cup and a half of sweet wine, and in the car on the way home I complained that my shoulder was cramping/aching. When I got home, I saw this question. Now I wonder if there is a connection! I'll be tracking data on this going forward.
posted by 168 at 8:01 AM on December 24, 2012

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