Alcoholic Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Damaged structures include the brain , heart , pancreas, gallbladder, and liver , as well as the peripheral nerves. Patients with multisystem damage as a result of alcohol consumption often die of cardiac or liver failure. The prevalence of alcohol-induced PN varies depending on demographics and the diagnostic criteria used in individual research studies. According to studies by the CDC, nearly 30% of adults in the US consume alcohol excessively.

Alcoholic neuropathy is a severe condition that can lead to chronic pain, loss of some bodily functions, and permanent disability. However, recognizing the symptoms and seeking medical attention early can minimize the impact of the condition. Rintala DH, Holmes SA, Courtade D, Fiess RN, Tastard LV, Loubser PG. Comparison of the effectiveness of amitriptyline and gabapentin on chronic neuropathic pain in persons with spinal cord injury. Nickander KK, Schmelzer JD, Rohwer DA, Low PA. Effect of alpha-tocopherol deficiency on indices of oxidative stress in normal and diabetic peripheral nerve. Miyoshi K, Narita M, Narita M, Suzuki T. Involvement of mGluR5 in the ethanol-induced neuropathic pain-like state in the rat. Tiwari V, Kuhad A, Chopra K. Amelioration of functional, biochemical and molecular deficits by epigallocatechin gallate in experimental model of alcoholic neuropathy.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholic Neuropathy

Nerves don’t have a resilient ability to regenerate if they are severely damaged. The nerve damage of alcoholic neuropathy may be permanent if the damage has been taking place for a long period of time or if it persists. Both the toxicity of alcohol and nutritional deficiencies in those who drink heavily have been linked with the nerve pain in alcoholic neuropathy. Individuals with alcoholic neuropathy often make a partial or full recovery, depending on the extent and duration of their alcohol consumption. Nagamatsu M, Nickander KK, Schmelzer JD, Raya A, Wittrock DA, Tritschler H, Low PA. Lipoic acid improves nerve blood flow, reduces oxidative stress, and improves distal nerve conduction in experimental diabetic neuropathy.

These studies addressed abstinence from alcohol consumption and administration of vitamins. Alcoholic neuropathy is not reversible, but with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, it can be managed effectively. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, controlling underlying conditions such as diabetes or vitamin deficiencies, and managing pain. Lifestyle changes recommended for good health include reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a balanced diet with adequate vitamins and minerals. Alcoholic neuropathy can be a serious condition, but with early diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to improve the quality of life for those affected.

Diagnosing Alcoholic Neuropathy

Our website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We’ve tried, tested, and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. Nerve damage typically affects the alcohol neuropathy axons, which are the projections that send electrical signals from one nerve to another, as well as the myelin, which is the fatty coating that protects the nerves. Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals.

History and physical exam can help to differential this condition from other forms of neuropathy. Treatment should be focused on alcohol sobriety and replacement of key nutrients. There was a great deal of heterogeneity between studies with respect to the definitions of alcohol abuse and the means used to diagnose peripheral neuropathy.

Learn More About Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Promises Behavioral Health

The editorial staff of, an American Addiction Centers resources, is made up of credentialed clinical reviewers with hands-on experience in, or expert knowledge of, addiction treatment. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol is the primary way to prevent alcoholic neuropathy. A wide range of factors determines how the body responds to chronic heavy drinking, but this activity can result in significant harm. Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations.

Many researchers favor the nutritional origin of this disease, but the possibility of alcohol having a toxic effect on the peripheral nerves has not been completely ruled out. Peripheral neuropathy refers to damage or disease of the nerves that carry messages to and from the brain or spinal column and the rest of the body. More recent research, however, suggests that alcohol can directly damage nerves. The evidence points toward alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy being a form of toxic neuropathy, rather than nutritional neuropathy. They get worse with more alcohol consumption, so if you stop drinking and seek professional medical attention, you can manage the symptoms of the disorder and potentially keep the nerve damage from worsening. As yet there is no effective therapeutic intervention available for relieving the neuropathic pain due to chronic alcohol consumption.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Chat With Us.
Agent (Online)

We are here to help. Chat with us on WhatsApp for any queries.