Alcoholic Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention

neuropathy alcohol treatment

We know that we can do exercise interventions like this to help make a big difference, and it’s something that this study shows really well,” she says. “I’ve had people tell me it feels like they are walking on rocks, numbness, or like a vice grip. In the hands, [neuropathy] can make it hard to grip things and alcohol neuropathy stages go about daily activities, and in the legs and feet, it can cause balance and walking issues,” she says. “There is a misconception that patients must be abstinent when taking naltrexone,” Jonathan Leung, a practitioner at the Mayo Clinic who surveyed doctors at the Mayo Clinic about naltrexone, told me.

Nutritional factors responsible for alcoholic neuropathy (indirect toxicity)

neuropathy alcohol treatment

A new study in JAMA reveals no significant survival benefit for cancer patients in clinical trials compared to routine treatment, challenging common perceptions… In 2017, Katie Lain was blacking out several times each week from drinking alcohol. On weeknights, she would typically down at least one bottle of wine, often more, and on weekends she binged vodka. But even after suffering a pulmonary embolism in her 30s, which her doctor tied to her excessive drinking, she struggled to quit. Additionally, treatment is aimed at pain relief and managing complications for the person and usually involves the same medications used for the treatment of neuropathy of diabetes. Doctors can make a diagnosis based on symptoms and by reviewing your medical history as well as undertaking a physical exam, but a diagnosis is often made by excluding other reasons for symptoms.

neuropathy alcohol treatment

What can I expect if I have this condition?

Morbidity can be decreased by the use of modern treatment and nutrients. It is still unclear what is the major determinant in the pathogenesis of ALN. Primarily, thiamine deficiency is the crucial risk factor of ALN since it induces the progression of Korsakoff’s syndrome and beriberi [144, 145]. Due to similar histologic and electrophysiological symptoms, it was believed that ALN may make up a subtype of beriberi [146]. Further research has confirmed the role of thiamine in the pathogenesis of ALN—the well-balanced diet and vitamin B1 supplementation significantly decreased the severity of ALN symptoms [147, 148]. However, the limitations of those studies include the lack of the possibility to measure the amount of vitamin B1 in the serum; further, patients who were involved in the study have received an unrefined form of the supplement.

Prevalence of alcoholic neuropathy

neuropathy alcohol treatment

Therefore, alcoholic neuropathy may occur by a combination of the direct toxic effects of ethanol or its metabolites and nutritional deficiencies, including thiamine deficiency. The precise mechanisms responsible for toxicity on the peripheral nervous system, however, have not yet been clarified. The amount of ethanol which causes clinically evident peripheral neuropathy is also still unknown.

Natural history

To diagnose alcoholic neuropathy, medical professionals will generally perform a few tests or exams to determine the severity of the disorder and what can be done to treat and manage the symptoms. Treatment of ALN aims to reduce further damage to the peripheral nerves and restore their normal functioning. What is crucial during ALN treatment is the alleviation of the major causation of ALN which is alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse treatment might lead to a resolution of neuropathic pain and alleviation of its symptoms.

neuropathy alcohol treatment

How common is this condition?

  • “When I’m treating alcohol use disorder, naltrexone is almost always my first-choice medication,” Saxon said.
  • Persons with alcoholism may consume smaller amounts of essential nutrients and vitamins and/or exhibit impaired gastrointestinal absorption of these nutrients secondary to the direct effects of alcohol.

It can lead to symptoms such as tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, and gastrointestinal issues. Deficiency of vitamins other than thiamine may also contribute to clinical features of alcoholic neuropathy. Chronic alcoholism can alter the intake, absorption and utilization of various nutrients (nicotinic acid, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate or vitamin E). Thus, these vitamin deficiencies were not considered to be major causal factors of neuropathy [26]. The nerves that run outside of the spinal cord and brain are called peripheral nerves. They work to send signals throughout the central nervous system and the rest of the body.

  • This dual strategy is essential to manage the condition effectively and improve our quality of life.
  • This condition often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in the hands and feet.
  • “This can empower patients to contribute to their own health and maintain their quality of life while receiving their optimal cancer therapy,” says Dr. Streckmann.
  • In 47 of these patients sural nerve biopsy was performed, with discrimination in terms of their thiamine status [3].
  • As supported by immunostaining, the membrane fraction showed that spinal mGluR5 concentrations in ethanol-treated rats were significantly increased compared with those in the control diet group.
  • ROS triggers second messengers involved in central sensitization of dorsal horn cells [41] or they activate spinal glial cells which in turn play an important role in chronic pain [42].
  • The psychological impact of chronic conditions such as alcoholic neuropathy should not be underestimated.

Molecular mechanisms involved in alcoholic neuropathy

  • They can cause problems — sometimes severe — with mobility, balance and coordination.
  • Joseph & Levine [71] suggested that activity in signaling pathways that ultimately lead to apoptosis plays a critical role in the generation of neuropathic pain, before death of sensory neurones becomes apparent.
  • An animal study on axonal transport in vitro using dorsal roots of the sciatic nerve showed decreased axonal transmission after long-term ethanol consumption [106].
  • This damage prevents the nerves from communicating information from one body area to another.
  • In vivo study on rats showed impaired retrograde axonal transport [107, 108].