What is alcoholic neuropathy?

Alcoholic neuropathy is a disease associated with chronic alcohol abuse that is characterized by damage to the nervous system. Alcoholic neuropathy can affect nerves anywhere in the body, including the feet, hands, muscles, gastrointestinal system, and reproductive system. Although the exact cause of alcoholic neuropathy is not known, it is thought to result from alcohol-related nerve damage, as well as poor diet and vitamin deficiency, which are associated with excessive drinking.

Signs and symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy can develop over a long period of time and include sensations of numbness, tingling and pain, as well as muscle weakness. Muscle weakness is more frequently experienced in the legs but can also occur in the arms and other regions of the body.

Successful management of alcoholic neuropathy begins with addressing the alcohol problem. Dietary supplementation, especially with B vitamins, which are essential for proper nerve function, can help improve symptoms. Pain-relieving medications are another treatment option. Left untreated, alcoholic neuropathy may lead to permanent nerve damage, loss of sensation, and chronic pain.

Seek immediate medical care for serious symptoms, such as numbness or tingling in your legs or arms, loss of bladder or bowel control, muscle spasms, muscle weakness, and speech impairment.Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for alcoholic neuropathy but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy?

Alcoholic neuropathy may result in a number of symptoms, all of which are related to nerve damage and can vary in intensity. Symptoms of muscle weakness and sensitivity to touch typically develop on both sides of the body. These symptoms occur more often in the legs than in the arms and gradually become worse over time.... Read more about alcoholic neuropathysymptoms

CAUSES

What causes alcoholic neuropathy?

Alcoholic neuropathy is a disease characterized by impaired nerve function caused by excessive drinking of alcohol and nutritional deficits related to alcohol abuse. Individuals who have suffered from alcoholism for 10 or more years or who drink excessive amounts of alcohol regularly have a high risk of alcoholic neuropathy.... Read more about alcoholic neuropathycauses

TREATMENTS

How is alcoholic neuropathy treated?

Treatment for alcoholic neuropathy begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider and addressing any alcohol problem you may have.... Read more about alcoholic neuropathytreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves