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There are several causes of muscle weakness or a tingling feeling in your feet. However, if you have a history of excessive alcohol consumption, these symptoms may be related to alcoholic neuropathy.

Alcoholic neuropathy is a disorder characterized by decreased nerve function that occurs as a result of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Individuals who have excessively consumed alcohol for 10 or more years are at the highest risk for developing the disorder. Alcoholic neuropathy is not life-threatening, but nerve damage is permanent and can cause a wide variety of symptoms that range from mild to severe. In addition to other areas and functions of the body, alcoholic neuropathy can cause issues with your feet and with muscles in your legs.

Causes of alcoholic neuropathy

The cause of alcoholic neuropathy is not completely clear, and there has been some debate regarding the exact cause. One theory is that the disorder is caused by ethanol itself while the other theory is that it is caused by nutritional deficiencies which are often associated with long-term alcohol abuse.

Alcoholic neuropathy symptoms

If you have alcoholic neuropathy, you may experience: 

  • Burning in the feet. 
  • Muscle cramps. 
  • Muscle weakness. 
  • Numbness. 
  • Pain. 
  • Tingling.

The disorder may also affect the nerves that control bodily functions and cause other symptoms including: 

  • Constipation. 
  • Diarrhea. 
  • Difficulty urinating. 
  • Incontinence. 
  • Vomiting.

Treatment of alcoholic neuropathy

Nerve damage that results from alcoholic neuropathy is usually permanent, but the symptoms can be treated. The first step to treating the condition is to limit or avoid alcohol intake in order to prevent further nerve damage. Vitamin supplements should also be taken to ensure proper nutrition. The next step is to work on controlling symptoms.

Pain Treatment

The pain associated with alcoholic neuropathy can often be controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers. Anti-depressants or anticonvulsant medications may also be helpful if you are suffering from sharp, stabbing pains.

Muscle Weakness Treatment

If you are suffering from muscle weakness, you may benefit from using splints to help support weak limbs and improve movement. Physical therapy can also help to increase the strength of weakened muscles.

Because numbness is often a symptom of alcoholic neuropathy, it is important to check regularly for cuts and sores, and be particularly careful to prevent injury.

If you or a family member is suffering from alcoholic neuropathy, consult a physician to determine the full extent of the nerve damage and the most appropriate treatment options.

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