Alcoholic Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments

There are no medications that can help improve loss of sensation, strengthen muscle weakness, or assist with the coordination and balance problems caused by alcoholic neuropathy. However, some people notice an improvement in symptoms a few months after discontinuing alcohol intake. Alcoholic neuropathy is also caused by nutritional deficiency, as well as toxins that build up in the body.

This hypothesis is largely based on observations first made over eight decades ago when it was demonstrated that thiamine deficiency (beriberi) neuropathy was clinically similar to ALN. We reviewed the evidence on both sides and conclude that ALN should be regarded as a toxic rather than nutritional neuropathy. Ethanol has been linked to insulin/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) resistance in the brain in patients with alcoholic dementia and alcoholic liver disease.

What is alcohol-related neurologic disease?

Thus, there is a need to screen acetyl-L-carnitine in both preclinical and clinical models of alcoholic neuropathy. Thus, it is clear that all the above pathways are potential targets for novel pharmacological agents for the treatment of alcoholic neuropathy. The only way to prevent alcoholic neuropathy is not to drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

  • Recently, extended release gabapentin relieved symptoms of painful polyneuropathy [120].
  • Excessive or heavy alcohol consumption is defined by the CDC when men have 15 or more drinks each week and women have 8 or more drinks each week.
  • Thus, alpha-lipoic acid may have a potential in the treatment of patients with alcoholic neuropathy.
  • The first step in seeking help for alcohol addiction might be to consult your healthcare provider.

In an animal study, it has been found that chronic alcohol consumption in rats resulted in a significant depletion in thiamine diphosphate (TDP), the active coenzyme form of thiamine. Supplementation with benfotiamine significantly increased concentrations of TDP and total thiamine compared with supplementation with thiamine HCl [96]. An 8 week, randomized, multicentre, placebo-controlled, double-blind study compared the effect of benfotiamine alone with a benfotiamine complex (Milgamma-N) or placebo in 84 alcoholic patients. Parameters measured included vibration perception in the great toe, ankle and tibia, neural pain intensity, motor function and paralysis, sensory function and overall neuropathy score and clinical assessment.

Is alcoholic neuropathy fatal?

The death receptor ligand, tumour necrosis factor α, and its downstream second messenger, ceramide, also produce pain-related behaviour via this mechanism. This suggests that these pathways are potential targets for novel pharmacological agents for the treatment of inflammatory as well as neuropathic pain [71]. Nine studies reported EMG findings in alcohol-related peripheral neuropathy patients. Reduced recruitment pattern of motor units was a frequently reported outcome [16, 28, 67, 70]. Active denervation (presence of positive waves and fibrillations) was also present in the majority of patients.

Dolly joined Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat in February 2020 as an RADT. Her experience with HVRC initially included Sober Living House Manager, Resident Tech, and Chemical Dependency Intern. In early 2022, Dolly received her CADCI certification, with a specialization as a Women’s alcohol neuropathy Treatment Specialist. At that time, she assumed the position of Chemical Dependency Counselor/ Case Manager. She is currently pursuing a degree in Clinical Psychology with plans to continue helping the lives of people suffering from addictions, mental health, and co-occurring disorders.

Relationship between alcoholic neuropathy and thiamine deficient neuropathy

Not only mGluRs but ionotropic glutamate (NMDA) receptors are also involved in alcoholic-induced neuropathic pain. The primary axonal damage and secondary demyelination of motor and sensory fibres (especially small diameter fibres) are considered to constitute the morphologic basis of alcoholic damage to nerve tissue at present [20]. The demyelination is explained as the result of a slowing down (decceleration) of axoplasmic flow and a degradation of the quality of biological properties of axonal enzymes and proteins. This type of degeneration, so called ‘dying-back’, resembles Wallerian degeneration. Ethanol and its toxic degradation metabolites affect neuronal metabolism including the metabolic pathways of nucleus, lysosomes, peroxisomes, endoplasmatic reticulum and cytoplasm [21]. Alcohol enters the blood as early as 5 min after ingestion and its absorption peaks after 30–90 min.

alcohol neuropathy

The basic components are diet, sleep, exercise, and time for relaxation and self-pampering. Since your ability to engage in some of these may be affected by neuropathy and/or alcoholism, schedule an appointment with a doctor or therapist to create a detailed, individualized health plan. To evaluate the peripheral nervous system for primary neurologic pathology or secondary systemic disorders, electrodiagnostic testing consists of nerve conduction studies to measure nerve conduction and an electromyogram (EMG) to measure muscle conduction. Autonomic nerve damage may cause a fluctuation in heart rate and BP, leading to orthostatic hypotension.

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