Sober living

Alcohol-Related Neurologic Disorders and Diseases

At an inpatient facility, people get to control their drinking habits and abstain from alcohol successfully. This will help reduce the impact of nerve damage and manage the condition. Because of this interruption, the feet and hands tend to feel weaker. But, when neuropathy affects the lower part of the body, these muscles will have poor organ control. That means you may experience intestine, stomach, and bladder problems.

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Only one study examined radial nerves which reported reduced SNAP [53]. Finally, one study examined the strength-duration time constant (SDTC) and rheobase in median nerves of those with alcoholic peripheral neuropathy [69]. The SDTC was normal compared to controls, but the rheobase was significantly different suggesting that APN may affect internodal channels other than nodal channels or the Na+ –K+ ATP pump. This is one of the most common questions for people who are affected by this disease and given the annoyance, pain, and eventual debilitation of neuropathy from alcohol dependence, it’s no wonder.

Alcoholic Neuropathy Diagnosis

Chronic abuse of alcohol depletes the pool of liver proteins which are consumed for energy production and insufficient intake of proteins only worsens this imbalance. Resulting disturbances in protein and lipid metabolism lead to undernourishment which adversely influences other metabolic pathways, including those influencing the function of the nervous system. One of the key nutrients inhibited by alcohol is thiamine, vitamin-B1. Thiamine serves as an important coenzyme in carbohydrate metabolism and neuron development. The lack of thiamine in the nervous system affects the cellular structure and can cause cell membrane damage and irregular ectopic cells. Other vitamin deficiencies seen with alcohol abuse include, but are not limited to, B-vitamins, folic acid, and vitamin-E.

alcoholic neuropathy recovery time

ALN is characterized by spontaneous burning pain, hyperalgesia, and allodynia. Besides, the key mechanism of chronic pain includes the long-term potentiation of glutamatergic transmission. The percentage of alcohol-dependent patients affected by ALN is estimated to be 66% [50, 51]. An essential risk factor regarding the etiology of ALN is the amount of alcohol consumed throughout the years since alcohol displays direct toxicity on nerve fibers [55]. It is estimated that consumption of more than 100 ml of ethyl alcohol per day significantly increases the risk of ALN [56]. Nevertheless, heavy alcohol drinkers are usually significantly malnourished because of the improperly balanced diet and impaired absorption of the essential nutrients and elements [58, 59].

What are symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy?

But, the pain is not the only troublesome aspect of alcohol-related neuropathy. Cerebellar degeneration caused by alcohol occurs when neurons in the cerebellum deteriorate and die. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance. These symptoms can occur in addition to the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. It usually develops as symptoms of Wernicke’s encephalopathy go away. This is a severe and short-term neurologic disease that can be life threatening.

~ Sones from NeuroTalk This next story is a closer look at how alcoholic neuropathy feels which comes from a member from an online alcoholism-related forum. It worried me because it was tingly and numb all the time and I work with my hands so I went to my doctor about it right away. It took til I had it in my right foot before they linked it to the alcohol… In my foot I had a weird feeling inside it and a couple of times I lost all feeling from the knee down for like half an hour or so. Anyway, when I eventually quit the numbness and tingling in my hands went pretty quickly, weeks even.

Fetal alcohol syndrome

Anything from sniffing paint, glue, or various inhalants can have such an effect. But, when you don’t consume enough vitamins and minerals from your regular meals, you can experience folate or B12 deficiency. Although the pain was common, not every patient experienced nerve damage the same way. The symptoms may vary depending on their autonomic, sensory, and motor nerve damage. Research shows that most patients with alcoholic neuropathy displayed poor sensory features, numbness, and impaired sensation of vibrations.

alcoholic neuropathy recovery time

It has previously been considered in relationship to nutritional, especially thiamine, deficiencies seen in alcoholics. Thiamine deficiency is closely related to chronic alcoholism and can induce neuropathy in alcoholic patients. Ethanol diminishes thiamine absorption in the intestine, reduces hepatic stores of thiamine and affects the phosphorylation of thiamine, alcohol neuropathy which converts it to its active form [12]. In addition, patients with chronic alcoholism tend to consume smaller amounts of essential nutrients and vitamins and/or exhibit impaired gastrointestinal absorption of these nutrients secondary to the direct effects of alcohol. These relationships make chronic alcoholism a risk factor for thiamine deficiency.


The mechanism of direct damage of nerve fibers due to alcohol intoxication remains unclear. Activation of spinal cord microglia, mGlu5 spinal cord receptors, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis appear to be implicated in this process [92,93,94,95,96,97]. Oxidative stress also leads to the indirect damage of nerve fibers via the release of free radicals and proinflammatory cytokines with protein kinase C and ERK kinase phosphorylation [98,99,100,101].

  • Alcohol consumed in excess for a long time can lead to nerve damage and malnutrition, both important contributors to this condition.
  • By reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption and with the right treatment plan, reversing alcoholic neuropathy can be partial or complete, depending on how advanced the disease is and how much nerve damage has been caused.
  • Accumulating evidence suggests a pivotal role for metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in nociceptive processing, inflammatory pain and hyperalgesia [74, 75].
  • Some of the symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy can be partially reversed.
  • Miyoshi et al. [15] found that a significant decrease in the mechanical nociceptive threshold was observed after 5 weeks of chronic ethanol consumption in rats.