Current research shows that alcohol is not a common trigger for fibromyalgia and, in some cases, may even help reduce symptoms.

Chronic pain-related conditions are the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States alone. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition that causes body and joint pain and tenderness, fatigue, cognitive changes, and difficulty sleeping.

While there’s no cure for this chronic condition, medications and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups. Some research even suggests that low or moderate alcohol intake may reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life in people with fibromyalgia.

Below, we’ll share what the research says on alcohol and fibromyalgia, including how to work closely with your doctor to identify and avoid your triggers.

Currently, there’s no research to suggest that alcohol makes fibromyalgia symptoms worse for everyone with the condition. In fact, while alcohol can be a possible trigger for flare-ups in some people, studies suggest that a low to moderate intake may actually improve symptoms.

Known fibro triggers

If you have fibromyalgia, you already know how painful and debilitating a flare-up ― or worsening of symptoms ― can be. And for many people living with this condition, a large part of managing the disease is avoiding the triggers that can lead to a flare-up.

While everyone’s triggers are different, some of the most common triggers for fibromyalgia flare-ups can include:

  • stress
  • insomnia
  • illnesses
  • infections
  • vaccinations
  • overexertion
  • weather changes
  • hormonal changes
  • dietary changes

Research on the relationship between alcohol intake and fibromyalgia symptoms is relatively new, and studies are limited. But here’s what the current research suggests about the effect that alcohol may have on fibromyalgia symptoms.

One of the first studies published on this topic in 2013 explored the effects of alcohol use on symptoms and quality of life in people living with fibromyalgia.

In the study, 400 participants reported regularly drinking alcohol in frequencies ranging from less than 3 drinks to upward of 7 drinks or more per week. Results of the study found that low to moderate alcohol intake ― or up to 7 drinks a week ― was associated with less severe fibromyalgia symptoms and a greater quality of life.

Another small study published in 2016 found that study participants who were moderate drinkers had a lower severity of fibromyalgia and insomnia symptoms than those who abstained. Results from a larger 2018 study showed that moderate alcohol use was associated with lower fibromyalgia and chronic pain symptoms in study participants.

More recently, a 2023 pilot study investigated the impact of red wine consumption on fibromyalgia symptoms in women.

According to the study results, participants who drank 15 grams of red wine each day for 4 weeks experienced decreased pain, tenderness, and anxiety levels. In addition, the red wine group also reported experiencing improvements in sadness, depression, and overall quality of life.

Despite this promising research, it’s important to remember that alcohol affects everyone differently. Even if there may be benefits for some people, there are also risks ― especially if you take certain medications or have other conditions that can make drinking alcohol dangerous.

Alcohol isn’t a common fibromyalgia trigger, but if you’ve noticed that your symptoms get worse after drinking, reach out to your doctor and let them know. With their help, you can work on figuring out what your triggers are so that you can avoid them.

One helpful tool that you can use to better identify your triggers is a symptom-tracking journal or diary. By keeping a log of your symptoms alongside your day-to-day activities, you can more easily see which factors might be contributing to your flare-ups.

And if you’re looking for more information on fibromyalgia diagnosis, treatment, and support, here are a few resources to get you started:

Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by episodes of pain, tenderness, fatigue, brain fog, and sleep changes. For some people with this condition, drinking alcohol can lead to a flare — while for others, low to moderate alcohol intake may help reduce pain and other symptoms.

If you have fibromyalgia, reach out to your doctor before starting any new treatments or interventions. Together, you can weigh the risks and benefits of each treatment approach to decide what options are best for you.