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Old 03-15-2017, 05:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Alcoholic Neuropathy?


Hi, all.

I'm new to this forum.

I'm 22 and been a relatively heavy drinker for two years, but been drinking since I was 17 (but that was once every week or every other week). Over the past two years, I suppose I've averaged getting extremely drunk about three times a week. But even then, it goes in phases. There have been entire weeks where I don't drink, and then I might get drunk five days in a row. I'm not quite to the point of physical addiction; I don't get withdrawal symptoms when I abstain for days on end. But there's certainly a psychological dependency that flares up at seemingly arbitrary points.

To the point. The morning after my last session, I noticed a tingly/pins-and-needles/numb sensation in my left big toe. Over the next few days, it progressively spread across the rest of my toes, and up my left foot, to just below my ankle. There's also a tiny feeling in my right big toe. Over the past three days (to present time of writing this), the progress has seemingly halted where it is. I am glad it isn't progressing any further.

The inner hypochondriac within me compelled me to do plenty of research. The numbness/tingling/pins and needles seems to match up with peripheral neuropathy, and specifically alcoholic neuropathy, as drinking is the most obvious factor present.

There isn't any pain, thankfully; only the strange sensations. It is most distracting when sitting down; it feels like my toes are floating or moving around, even though they are still. Oddly enough, the sensations abate somewhat when I'm walking, or I move my feet even the slightest. It takes a while of keeping them still for the sensations to return to their fullest. Also, it seems to get better when I'm lying down, so sleep isn't an issue. In fact, when I wake up in the morning, my feet feel completely normal. It seems to get worse the later in the day it is. So there are a couple of things that seem not to match up with other reports of alcoholic neuropathy I've read (moving and sleeping is easier).

More queries began to arise when searching for evidence that it can develop after just two years of heavy-ish drinking (not more than three times a week on average), and in a person of 22. Most people reported drinking for many years beyond that. Admittedly there was no rule on how long it would take to develop, so it stands to reason it could develop in a 22-year-old after just two years. At least being at my young age, and not drinking for that long, gives me hope of reversing my symptoms after abstaining.

I haven't consumed alcohol for a week at this point. Does anyone have any input on how long after stopping drinking their symptoms took to subside, if they ever did? Does the likelihood of a full recovery increase being younger and not drinking as much? I'm seeing my doctor today, so I'll see what he says, but I figured I'll take as much input as possible.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi, antihawk. Welcome. Certainly stopping your consumption of alcohol is a positive step forward in many ways. Making changes earlier in life is, I believe, easier than later in life when alcohol dependency is far more likely.
I can't speak to your symptoms. You should see a physician, as what you describe could be several things.
With regard to when do you start to feel better, more "normal" after quitting? Everyone is different. I slept better after about two weeks, felt much more myself after around three months. It took about a year of sobriety for me to feel healed and whole again.
Good luck.
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You need to go to a doctor. No point in getting het up about something that could be a lot of things. What if you have a pinched nerve in your lower spine for example? Worry more about stopping drinking now.
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:42 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi, antihawk. Welcome. Certainly stopping your consumption of alcohol is a positive step forward in many ways. Making changes earlier in life is, I believe, easier than later in life when alcohol dependency is far more likely.
I can't speak to your symptoms. You should see a physician, as what you describe could be several things.
With regard to when do you start to feel better, more "normal" after quitting? Everyone is different. I slept better after about two weeks, felt much more myself after around three months. It took about a year of sobriety for me to feel healed and whole again.
Good luck.
I only noticed the alcohol-related insomnia start to appear this December, so I don't think the problem is too bad. I sleep badly -- I wake up about seven times during the night and lucid-dream the whole time -- for about three-to-four nights after my last drink. After that, I go back to normal. I have slept perfectly for the three past nights.

As for the symptoms pertaining to my foot, my experience with CBT in the past has instructed me to see them as a perverse positive. I believe it now it is a tangible deterrent against drinking again. Before, I had no concrete reason to stop drinking. I was still "high-functioning"; it hadn't affected my life in any serious way.
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, good. Stay with it. Aside from all of the mental wreckage, alcohol consumption over a long period of time is just havoc on one physically. Make changes now for a healthy outcome.
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I went to the doctor and she said that, given my age, and given my relatively infrequent and short timespan of abuse of alcohol, it's extremely unlikely I have anything in the realm of neuropathy, thankfully. There appeared to be no back issues. She said it could be "nerve irritation", potentially worsened about worrying about that very issue. I was prescribed amitriptyline. Anyone have experience with this medication for neurological issues?

Also blood tests ordered for the usual potential culprits -- B12, B1 etc.
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by antihawk View Post
I went to the doctor and she said that, given my age, and given my relatively infrequent and short timespan of abuse of alcohol, it's extremely unlikely I have anything in the realm of neuropathy, thankfully. There appeared to be no back issues. She said it could be "nerve irritation", potentially worsened about worrying about that very issue. I was prescribed amitriptyline. Anyone have experience with this medication for neurological issues?

Also blood tests ordered for the usual potential culprits -- B12, B1 etc.
I'm not a doctor, I'm not giving medical advice but my degree is in human biology. What you describe sounds like a nerve issue. The source of the nerve issue could be anywhere from your lumbar spine to your toe itself. Wish you the best.

I wouldn't necessarily take the diagnosis as a green light to keep drinking heavily, or maybe at all.
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:28 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm glad that you will be talking to your doctor soon. Hopefully he can give you the information you need.
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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My dad takes it for neuropathy stemming from cancer treatment in the 80s. It helps him a lot
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Old 03-15-2017, 03:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I had a case of frostbite in my toes and it lasted about 6 months. This was about 25 years ago, and I eventually regained total feeling in my toes again. Your body has an amazing way of healing itself and you were smart to see a doctor. Whether alcohol was a contributing factor or not, it's probably best to stop drinking just to be safe.
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Old 03-15-2017, 04:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I was 32 at the end of my drinking and I had neuropathy - if I fell asleep I wouldn't feel or move my arms when I woke up. I quit drinking and it went away completely. This is a sign that something is not right with your body. Listen to it and quit while you are ahead. I have no lasting damage to my body - I think in part because I quit while I was young. You are young too. Quit NOW. You can do it - I know you can. I believe in you.
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Old 03-15-2017, 06:28 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by antihawk View Post
She said it could be "nerve irritation", potentially worsened about worrying about that very issue. I was prescribed . Anyone have experience with this medication for neurological issues?
I'm prescribed amitriptyline for facial nerve pain - been on it since2014 and it works well.

It takes a while to work initially - a couple of weeks for me.

There were initial side effects - I was a little drowsy and my mouth was often dry....but both those things disappeared completely after a while.

I started on 25 mg daily, increased it to 50 mg when the pain resurfaced after a fall.

D
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:32 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Welcome to the Forum Antihawk!!
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Old 03-16-2017, 08:36 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I was 32 at the end of my drinking and I had neuropathy - if I fell asleep I wouldn't feel or move my arms when I woke up. I quit drinking and it went away completely. This is a sign that something is not right with your body. Listen to it and quit while you are ahead. I have no lasting damage to my body - I think in part because I quit while I was young. You are young too. Quit NOW. You can do it - I know you can. I believe in you.
This. Had it off and on at the end, and it was definitely related to alcohol. In my feet and hands. Tingling, the whole works. Didn't pay much attention to it as I had other symptoms (right side pain, etc.) I googled it as well. I'm quite sure it was related to consumption. I was forced to stop in June (hospitalization/near death, etc.) Haven't had it since. I don't know how long it would have taken to go away "naturally". I had 7 days of medical detox, so a lot of withdrawal symptoms were stopped dead in the hospital.
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Old 03-29-2018, 12:35 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Recovery?

Hi Antihawk

Did you ever recover from this?
I have what I suspect to be alcoholic neuropothy from infrequent weekend binge drinking (10-20 units sometimes more maybe every other weekend)
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Old 03-30-2018, 03:47 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by antihawk View Post
I went to the doctor and she said that, given my age, and given my relatively infrequent and short timespan of abuse of alcohol, it's extremely unlikely I have anything in the realm of neuropathy, thankfully. There appeared to be no back issues. She said it could be "nerve irritation", potentially worsened about worrying about that very issue. I was prescribed amitriptyline. Anyone have experience with this medication for neurological issues?

Also blood tests ordered for the usual potential culprits -- B12, B1 etc.
When I was young, I suffered a trauma which led to physical symptoms and was prescribed the drug. It takes a while to work itself into your system and to reach the nerve endings. It relieved the symptoms, but left me lethargic. I really didn't mind too much, since the awful physical symptoms were gone. I do know that you have to discontinue the drug under a doctor's supervision.
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