Friday, July 25, 2014

Alcoholic neuropathy

Table of Contents

Alternative Names

Neuropathy - alcoholic; Alcoholic polyneuropathy


Treatment

Once the immediate alcohol problem has been addressed, treatment goals include:

  • Controlling symptoms
  • Maximizing ability to function independently
  • Preventing injury

It is important to supplement the diet with vitamins, including thiamine and folic acid.

Physical therapy and orthopedic appliances (such as splints) may be needed to maximize muscle function and maintain limb position.

Patients may take medication, if necessary, to treat pain or uncomfortable sensations. The response to medications varies. Patients are advised to take the least amount of medication needed to reduce symptoms, to help prevent drug dependence and other side effects of chronic use.

Common medications may include over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to reduce pain. Tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsant medications may help stabbing pains.

Positioning, or the use of a bed frame that keeps the covers off the legs, may reduce pain for some people.

Some people may need to treat blood pressure problems, difficulty with urination, and slow gastrointestinal movement.

Light-headedness or dizziness when standing up (orthostatic hypotension) may require several different treatments before you find one that successfully reduces symptoms. Treatments that may help include:

  • Wearing elastic stockings
  • Eating extra salt
  • Sleeping with the head elevated
  • Using medications such as fludrocortisone

Bladder dysfunction may be treated with:

  • Manual expression of urine
  • Intermittent catheterization
  • Medications such as bethanechol

Impotence, diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms are treated when necessary. These symptoms often respond poorly to treatment in people with alcoholic neuropathy.

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Review Date: 04/30/2011
Reviewed By: Kevin Sheth, MD, Department of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)