A team at the University of Greenwich in London said that increasing blood alcohol content by a certain amount can lead to a small increase in pain resistance.
They analysed 18 previous studies and found that elevating blood alcohol by about 0.08% (the equivalent of about two pints) can give the body a ‘small elevation of pain threshold’.
They wrote: ‘Findings suggest that alcohol is an effective analgesic that delivers clinically relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity, which could explain alcohol misuse in those with persistent pain, despite its potential consequences for long-term health.’
The researchers said alcohol is on a similar level to codeine when it comes to pain relief.
The findings were published in the Journal of Pain and explain that alcohol delivers ‘clinically-relevant reductions in ratings of pain intensity’.
It is unclear if alcohol reduces pain because it affects brain receptors or because it merely makes the drinker relax.
Dr Trevor Thompson, who led the study, told The Sun: ‘We have found strong evidence that alcohol is an effective painkiller.
‘It can be compared to opioid drugs such as codeine and the effect is more powerful than paracetamol.
‘If we can make a drug without the harmful side-effects then we could have something that is potentially better than what is out there at the moment.’
However, Public Health England warned that drinking too much will cause a number of long-term problems.