Alcoholic Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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. Acetyl-L-carnitine has been tested in clinical [102] and animal studies [103] for the treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. The decreases in nerve conduction velocity were significantly less in groups supplemented with acetyl-L-carnitine. In addition, acetyl-L-carnitine did not interfere with the antitumour effects of the drugs.

Alcohol-abusing patients with liver cirrhosis and vagus nerve neuropathy are at higher risk of a sudden death compared to patients without impairments within the nervous system [173, 174]. One of the other important issues in alcoholic individuals is the source of their calorie intake. These individuals draw the majority of calories from calorie rich alcoholic beverages with low nutritive value. 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. Most patients with initially present with symmetrical polyneuropathies in the lower distal extremities, however; heavier abuse can progress to distal upper extremity symptoms.

Outlook of Alcoholic Neuropathy

If it affects two or more nerves in different areas, it’s called multiple mononeuropathy, and if it affects many nerves, it’s called polyneuropathy. People with peripheral neuropathy usually describe the pain as stabbing, burning or tingling. Sometimes symptoms get better, especially if caused by a condition that can be treated. Chronic heavy drinkers may be at risk for several different alcohol-related neurological issues. If you’re struggling to control your drinking and worried about alcoholic neuropathy, help is available. For a list of rehabs and treatment centers near you, visit our rehab directory.

  • This test is commonly used in studies of neuropathic disorders, and it is easily replicable.
  • One of the first symptoms of AN is a slowly progressive sensory-dominant neuropathy, which affects motor and autonomic functions, being related to the amount and duration of alcohol consumption (Chopra and Twari, 2012).
  • Reduced glutathione is a major low molecular weight scavenger of free radicals in cytoplasm.
  • Accumulating evidence suggests a pivotal role for metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in nociceptive processing, inflammatory pain and hyperalgesia [74, 75].
  • Besides, the key mechanism of chronic pain includes the long-term potentiation of glutamatergic transmission.

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]. Besides, ALN is characterized by insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) resistance, which results in impaired trophic factor signaling [102, 103]. Early alcohol neuropathy alcoholic neuropathy, usually presenting as sensory symptoms in the extremities, is reversible if the patient stops drinking and establishes proper nutrition. However, more severe cases may be intractable, even with abstinence, and lead to lifelong impairment. However, vulnerability to neuropathy and its severity and speed of progression varies.

Alcohol Abuse Diagnostic Criteria and Biomarkers

Active denervation (presence of positive waves and fibrillations) was also present in the majority of patients. The prevalence of denervation findings on EMG ranged from muscle to muscle, with the highest being in the muscles of the lower limbs suggesting a length-dependent pattern [35, 45, 52, 59]. Alcohol abuse contributes to peripheral neuropathy development involving both somatic and autonomic nerves [154, 155].

We offer a range of treatment options, including inpatient and outpatient care designed around the individual. Whether you’re beginning to experience the signs of ALN, like decreased muscle strength, or if you’re trying to get away from drinking before alcohol causes irreversible damage to your body, we can help. Certain vitamin supplements, including folic acid and thiamine, will likely be provided to you during treatment since people with ALN tend to be deficient in these areas. Other causes can lead to neuropathy besides alcohol, so your healthcare provider may order additional tests to confirm what has caused your symptoms. For instance, they may check your thyroid function, neurons, electrolyte levels, and heart health. Alcoholic-related neuropathy (ALN) is a serious and irreversible condition that can lead to severe pain and physical disability.