Alcoholic neuropathy

Alternative Names

Neuropathy – alcoholic; Alcoholic polyneuropathy

Definition of Alcoholic neuropathy

Alcoholic neuropathy is damage to the nerves that results from excessive drinking of alcohol.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of alcoholic neuropathy is debated. It probably includes both a direct poisoning of the nerve by the alcohol, and the effect of poor nutrition associated with alcoholism.

Signs and tests

Your doctor will get an extensive description of the problem and will perform a neurological exam. Signs may include:


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

Expectations (prognosis)

Damage to nerves from alcoholic neuropathy is usually permanent and may get worse if you continue to use alcohol or do not correct nutritional problems. Symptoms vary from mild discomfort to severe disability. The disorder is usually not life-threatening, but it may severely affect your quality of life.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Daniel B. Hoch, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 6/24/2009

Alcoholic neuropathy
Motor nerves
Autonomic Nerves
Central nervous system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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