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Alcoholic Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis

Posted by:

Johannes Sauer

Published at: July 12, 2024

Table of Contents
  1. What is Alcoholic Neuropathy?

  2. Causes of Alcoholic Neuropathy

    1. Lack of Nutrition

    2. Poisoning of the Nerves

    3. Genetic Factors

  3. Symptoms of Alcohol Neuropathy

    1. Balance Problems

    2. Pain and Burning Sensations

  4. Diagnosis of Alcohol Neuropathy

  5. Why Shoes Can Make a Difference

Alcoholism is one possible cause for neuropathy. In fact, alcoholic neuropathy is incredibly common, affecting up to 50% of people who drink heavily over the long-term. This post will explain the causes and symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy, how it is diagnosed, and how it can affect walking.

What is Alcoholic Neuropathy?

Alcoholic neuropathy is the name for nerve damage that is caused by alcoholism. 

Neuropathy can have other causes as well (diabetes, for example, or an injury to the nerves). It is important to be aware that some people may even have neuropathy related to more than one cause (an alcoholic person who has a nerve injury, for example, could have neuropathy from both). 

Some research suggests an association between neuropathy and reduced lifespan. This could be related to increased falls, and/or underlying health issues (alcoholism being one of them).

Causes of Alcoholic Neuropathy

Researchers believe that drinking excessively can lead to neuropathy via multiple mechanisms, which we go over below.

Lack of Nutrition

Drinking excessively can cause problems with nutrient absorption, while also depleting nutrients. As a result, it can lead to malnutrition. This, in turn, can contribute to neuropathy.

Poisoning of the Nerves

MedlinePlus explains that the alcohol may directly poison the nerves as well, which could be another way in which excessive drinking can contribute to the development of neuropathy.

Genetic Factors

Genetics factors have been implicated in alcoholism as well as neuropathy.

Symptoms of Alcohol Neuropathy

Jul 11, 2024

Now that you understand more about how alcoholism can contribute to neuropathy, let’s go over the symptoms that present with alcoholic neuropathy.

Balance Problems

People who experience neuropathy in their feet may have a hard time keeping their balance. This is especially likely if the neuropathy causes numbness, or is associated with foot drop. 

Foot drop is a condition that prevents you from lifting the front parts of your feet completely as you are walking. 

If you cannot keep your balance effectively, you may be more vulnerable to trips and falls.

Pain and Burning Sensations

Neuropathy can present unpleasant symptoms such as pain, burning, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, and so forth.

Diagnosis of Alcohol Neuropathy

A couple of methods for diagnosing alcoholic neuropathy include nerve conduction studies and electromyography. Your doctor will also conduct a clinical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms and alcohol use.

Why Shoes Can Make a Difference

If your neuropathy is in one or both feet, you may have a difficult time walking. But it is important to keep walking to maintain a healthy gait, or restore one. Exercise also is good for your overall health.

Cadense Original Adaptive Shoes for men and women can make it easier to exercise with alcoholic neuropathy. They feature a stable design that helps prevent falls, and patented variable friction technology that makes crossing uneven terrain easier if you have foot drop. 

These shoes also are lightweight and easy to put on and take off. Their design is as fashionable as it is comfortable, making them perfect for everyday wear.



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Can alcoholic neuropathy be cured?

No, alcoholic neuropathy usually cannot be cured. The majority of the time, the damage cannot be reversed. 

Exercising and eating properly for neuropathy may help mitigate symptoms. You should also stop drinking, both so that you do not worsen your neuropathy and so you can improve your overall health.

How does alcoholic neuropathy affect daily life?

Alcoholic neuropathy can create uncomfortable and painful sensations that can directly decrease quality of life. If you have neuropathy in your feet, it also can impact your gait.

Who is at the highest risk of developing alcoholic neuropathy?

The more you drink and the longer you do it for, the higher your risk for alcoholic neuropathy. In addition, some people may be predisposed through genetic factors.

Posted by: Johannes Sauer

Johannes is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cadense and passionate about helping people with walking difficulties. Johannes is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cadense and passionate about helping people with walking difficulties. He was immediately drawn to the mission of the company because his cousin lost his lower leg in a tragic motorcycle accident a few years ago and is experiencing walking difficulties ever since. Johannes brings over a decade of experience in working for consumer product companies to Cadense. He holds an MBA from the University of Graz in Austria. Johannes lives with his family in Santa Barbara, CA.

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