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Alcohol

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Alcohol can have a toxic effect on nerve tissue, and alcohol abuse is one of the most frequent causes of neuropathy. According to studies, it is estimated that as many as 66% of individuals with chronic alcohol abuse may suffer from alcoholic polyneuropathy.

People affected by alcoholic neuropathy may feel burning and tingling sensations in their feet, which may persist or may last from a few months to a few years. People with alcoholic neuropathy who stop drinking may alleviate their current symptoms and prevent further nerve deterioration. Damage to nerves caused by alcoholic neuropathy, however, is usually permanent.

Chronic alcoholism is often associated with malnutrition and nutritional and vitamin deficiencies, including B12, B1 (thiamine), folate and other B vitamins. It may be hard to distinguish nutrition-related neuropathies from alcoholic neuropathy.

Symptoms & Signs

  • Pain
  • “Pins and needles”
  • Numbness
  • Balance disorders
  • Muscle weakness, cramps, or aches
  • Muscle spasms / contractions
  • Tingling
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Incontinence (leaking urine) or difficulty with urination
  • Impotence in men
  • Nausea / vomiting

Evaluation & Tests

(Not all evaluation and tests may be necessary.)

Treatment & Therapy

(Not all treatments and therapies may be indicated.)

  • Seek treatment for alcoholism
  • Stop drinking (psychiatry referral, alchohol abstinence abuse programs, and support groups have shown favorable ways to help patients recover from alcohol use disorder)
  • Supplement diet with vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B12, folate and vitamin E. Too much vitamin B6, however, may worsen peripheral neuropathy
  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Use of orthopedic appliances, such as orthotic devices, which may be covered by Medicaid.
  • Take safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation.

Did You Know?
FPN's Biobank is Invaluable

The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy hosts the only biobank for peripheral neuropathy in the whole world!

The Peripheral Neuropathy Research Registry (PNRR) is a unique and invaluable resource to researchers and patients alike. This biobank is a set of patient data and samples intended for research use. With new research, there is always new opportunity for advancements in treatment and prevention strategies.