Prevention and management of drug-induced peripheral neuropathy

Drug Saf. 1991 Jul-Aug;6(4):302-14. doi: 10.2165/00002018-199106040-00007.


When symptoms of peripheral neuropathy appear, the possibility that they have been induced by drugs should be considered. A large number of drugs of all kinds, several of which are considered indispensable, have been implicated in peripheral neuropathy. A list of some of these drugs is provided. Neuropathy is a universal and dose-limiting factor during treatment with vinca alkaloids, but is otherwise a rare complication of drug therapy. Drug-induced peripheral neuropathy is almost always due to a dose-dependent primary axonal degeneration caused either by toxic reactions or by metabolic changes in neurons or their surroundings. The use of drugs should be restricted, especially in patients with a risk for development of neuropathy or with already existing neuropathy, e.g. patients with hepatic or renal failure, diabetes mellitus, or malnutrition. Patients should be given vitamins, prophylactically or therapeutically, which will sometimes allow a treatment to be continued. In other cases of drug-induced neuropathy the drug should be stopped. Reversal depends on the severity of the neuropathy, intensity and duration of the treatment and existence of causative cofactors, but generally the prognosis is good. While waiting for recovery physiotherapy is of importance, and when paraesthesia and pain are troublesome the patient should be treated with carbamazepine, imipramine or lidocaine (lignocaine).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / prevention & control