Q. I am suffering from numbness in my toes. Does it indicate alcoholic neuropathy?

Answered by
Dr. S. Riaz Ahmed
and medically reviewed by Dr.Nithila A
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 30, 2019 and last reviewed on: Oct 04, 2019

Hello doctor,

I have had numbness in my toes for approximately three months. Sometimes there is a little bit of tingling along with it. It has not affected the activity or my way of life. I also have backache and a lot of degeneration in the back. I am on Levothyroxine, Rouvostatin, and Aspirin. Occasionally I take Xanax for anxiety.

Also, I had ankle surgery before four months on my right ankle, and this is the second surgery on that ankle. The numbness and tingling started just around that time. I also drank wine. I can drink anywhere from two to four glasses a day, but there have been many times when I go without alcohol for months at a time. I am getting very anxious about this, and I understand there are many many causes for numbness and tingling and that it can be very progressive. I would like to know if my liver enzymes are normal, is it possible to have alcohol neuropathy?



Welcome to

I would ask you whether your problem of numbness on feet is only restricted to the operated ankle or it is on both feet? Moreover, you seem to be drinking time almost every day be restricted slowly. Alcoholic neuropathy is bilateral, and if you have on both legs, you need to stop drinking and start taking Vitamin B12 500 microgram twice a day. Regarding your back problem, if there is radiating pain, you could worry about degenerative disorders. What sort of surgery did you undergo? They are the possibility of post-surgery injury of sensory nerve ending damage which could explain our problem also. Well, I would say, if you stop drinking, your liver will be fine.

The Probable causes:

Post surgery

Investigations to be done:


Differential diagnosis:

Alcoholic neuropathy

Thank you doctor,

My question was if I have normal liver enzymes, can I still have alcohol neuropathy? The numbness is primarily in the operated toes, but I have minor or little in the left toes.



Welcome back to

Normal liver enzymes do not rule out the possibility of affecting nerves and tests the reason I emphasized regarding off from wine consumption. Moreover, in the affected side where you had undergone surgery, it gets easily affected with the above habit.

Thank you doctor,

If my general practitioner sends me to a neurologist, how would they detect whether the numbness is a result of the alcohol consumption, i.e. Can they detect if it is alcohol use causing this, and what tests have to be performed to determine what is causing the numbness? Are the tests painful? Finally, if I quit drinking entirely or only have a glass occasionally, can the condition be reversed or will it persist even if I abstain from alcohol use.



Welcome back to

Yes, it can be detected by doing what is called nerve connection studies, and even subtle problem in another leg can also be identified, but in your case, it is not necessary. Good to hear that you gave up the habit, and hopefully, you continue to be totally out of it. By doing with time, you will be better.

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