Alcoholic Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

This is why professional medical advice is required immediately if you start to see alcoholic neuropathy signs. One of the other common effects of alcoholic neuropathy is pain and hypersensitivity. While some people may feel decreased sensations, others might be more sensitive. A person with this condition can be sensitive to touch and even feel pain while resting. The lightest touch can feel painful, particularly in the fingers and toes. The pain can feel like a burning, throbbing or pins-and-needles sensation.

With diminished abilities to feel your extremities, you will have trouble walking and grasping things. Additionally, you may injure your hands or feet and not notice until the wound has become infected. With diminished sensations, you can struggle to write, walk, type, or text, making daily tasks that much harder to accomplish. If you’ve been diagnosed with alcoholic neuropathy, the best thing you can do for yourself is to quit drinking, which we know is easier said than done, but you don’t have to do it alone. Consider joining a support group — there are a number online if your condition prevents you from leaving the house. Once you and your doctor know what you’re up against, treatment can begin in earnest.

How can I reduce my risk of developing peripheral neuropathy or prevent it entirely?

To determine the functions of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), sympathetic skin response (SSR) is used; the abnormal results of this test suggest subclinical transmission impairments [162]. Navarro et al. (1993) showed that nearly half of the alcohol-dependent patients without AAN symptoms and any aberrations in electrophysiologic studies presented abnormal SSR results [163]. In a similar study, SSR was used to assess the number of reactive sweat glands (SGN), which turned out to be decreased in alcohol-dependent patients [164]. The presence of HbsAg was found only in nine subjects, the combination HCV-Ab and HbsAg only in five; these last two findings represent a very small portion of the sample.

How do you stop alcohol neuropathy?

Treatment for alcohol-involved neuropathy involves medication to alleviate pain symptoms and is geared toward preventing the progression of nerve damage through alcohol abstinence, nutritional supplementation, and rehabilitation.

Our muscles need to receive a message from nearby nerves in order to function. When this message is interrupted due to damaged nerves, the muscles cannot function as they normally would. Alcoholic neuropathy is a condition in which the nerves become damaged as a result of years of heavy alcohol consumption. Symptoms include burning pain in the body, hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain), and allodynia (a condition in which normal stimulus, like a soft touch, produces pain). Excessive, long-term consumption of alcohol can lead to malnutrition as well as nerve damage, and both contribute to the development of alcoholic neuropathy. In people with alcoholic neuropathy, the peripheral nerves have been damaged by too much alcohol use.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

The way alcohol neuropathy is being managed presently is not satisfactory. However, there is poor compliance on the part of patients, resulting in the progression of the condition and ultimately, poor quality of life. Residual neuropathy occurs even in patients who have practiced abstinence.

  • You can be diagnosed through physical examinations, nerve conduction tests, nerve biopsy, blood or urine tests, and imaging.
  • Also known as peripheral neuropathy, this disorder arises due to excessive alcohol consumption causing nerve damage to the peripheral nerves in the human body.
  • Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all.
  • Sometimes alcohol causes such severe damage to the body that a liver transplant may be necessary.
  • If you notice you are developing any signs of alcoholic neuropathy (such as numbness after drinking alcohol), in addition to seeing a doctor, try to stay away from alcohol altogether.

Your nervous system has two parts, the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Your brain and spinal cord are the two components that make up your central nervous system. Your peripheral nervous system consists of all the other nerves in your body. It also includes nerves that travel from your spinal cord alcohol neuropathy and brain to supply your face and the rest of your body. Our evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment program is tailored to your individual needs so you get the best quality treatment with the highest chance for success. We can help you detox while providing you with the tools and resources to build a healthy life.

What tests will be done to diagnose peripheral neuropathy?

For example, bladder problems may require medications of their own or special devices, like the use of catheters. If you are experiencing pain because of your condition, you may be prescribed pain medication. Methods 
Case series with clinical, laboratory, electrophysiological, and, in 1 patient, biopsy data. Chronic and acute (arrows) loss of myelinated axons, 1-µm plastic section. People who drink heavily on a regular basis and have one or more of the following symptoms should contact a doctor.

Nerve damage can also make it difficult for you to carry out the functions of daily life. Early diagnosis and treatment make it more likely that you will be able to recover. Other studies have shown a direct, negative effect from alcohol and its many metabolites on the nervous system. Axonal degeneration and demyelination of neurons were seen in both humans and lab mice receiving alcohol. The cause is a diverse multifactorial process caused from damage by free radicals, the release of inflammatory markers, and oxidative stress. Treatment for alcoholism may include counseling, social support such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or medicines.

Muscle tone was flaccid, and deep tendon reflexes were either absent or markedly depressed in involved limbs. Multimodal sensory loss of glove and stocking–type distribution was accompanied by painful paresthesia or myalgia. Ataxia was of sensory type, and 1 patient additionally showed features of cerebellar ataxia. No patient displayed cranial nerve involvement, urinary or fecal incontinence, or central nervous system signs.

These include confusion, cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, and cognitive impairment. Chronic and excessive alcohol consumption is the primary cause of peripheral neuropathy. It is worth noting that peripheral neuropathy has no reliable treatment due to the poor understanding of its pathology. If you’re concerned about the effects or possibility of developing alcoholic neuropathy, then you may want to seek the assistance of a clinical professional in diagnosing and offering treatment options for you. Alcoholic neuropathy is a serious issue that can last for a lifetime if not properly identified and treated at an early stage.

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