Peripheral Neuropathy & Lithium
[Home] [Bipolar News] [Bipolar Disorder] [Medications] [Treatments] [Bipolar Disorder/Job/School] [Disabilities] [Ask the Doctor] [Ask David] [Self-Injury] [Personal Stories] [Graham's Column] [Steven's Column] [Storm's Column] [Columnist Archives] [Suicide] [Community Support] [Family Members] [Expressions] [Greeting Cards] [Books] [Awards] [Links & Rings] [About Us] [Contact Us]


Q:  Peripheral Neuropathy & Lithium

Thank you for your wonderful site, Dr. Phelps.

I am on 900mg lithium, 0.112 Synthroid, 1.0 Rivotril (and I struggled and succeeded getting off Xanax, but had great difficulty with Rivotril.  These drugs have been taken for about 20 years.

In the past few years, I developed peripheral neuropathy (like carpal tunnel) and after a cerebral stroke-like event upon withdrawal, I get headaches. 

My question:

Is peripheral neuropathy due to high lithium levels; I also have very salty membranes, and drink tons of water at night;  I worry that my lithium level is too high for me.  (last count 1.2 after 2 hrs. of ingestion). 

I see my doctor in 2 weeks to see how I stabilize on an increase in Rivotril dose - a dismal failure at withdrawal after trying a year.

Thank you.

Dear Ms. or Mr. Squiggles -- 
On a quick literature review using Pub Med (
try it; "lithium neuropathy" was the search term I used) there appears to be at least one case report of peripheral neuropathy but there is also a report of using lithium to treat peripheral neuropathy, although it's in a rat model of the illness, not in humans.  

A level of 1.2 is not necessarily too high, but it's right near the top; usually we use "trough" levels to determine what is the maximal acceptable, and different doc's use different maxima: 1.0 is too much for some patients, but some doctors will use 1.2 as "no higher than this" level.  

Dr. Phelps

Published February, 2002


Bipolar World   1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
Allie Bloom, David Schafer, M.Ed. (Blackdog)
Partners:  John Haeckel, Judith (Duff) 
Founder:  Colleen Sullivan

Email Us at Bipolar World


About Us  Add a Link  Advance Directives  Alternative Treatments  Ask the Doctor   Ask Dr. Plyler about Bipolar Disorder   Ask The Doctor/ Topic Archives  Awards  Benny the Bipolar Puppy  Bipolar Chat  Bipolar Children  Bipolar Disorder News  Bipolar Help Contract  Bipolar World Forums  Book Reviews  Bookstore  BP & Other mental Illness   Clinical Research Trials & FDA Drug Approval   Community Support   Contact Us  The Continuum of Mania and Depression   Coping   Criteria    Criteria and Diagnosis  Criteria-World Health Disabilities,  DSMV-IV   Dual Diagnosis  eGroups  Expressions (Poetry, Inspiration, Humor, Art Gallery, Memorials  Family Members   Getting Help for a Loved One who Refuses Treatment  Greeting Cards  History of Mental Illness  Indigo  Job and School  Links  Manage Your Medications  Medications   Medication and Weight Gain    News of the Day  Parent Chat  Pay for Meds  Personal Stories  Self Help  Self Injury  Significant Others  Stigma and Mental Health Law  Storm's Column  Suicide!!!  The Suicide Wall  Table of Contents   Treatments  Treatment Compliance  US Disability  Veteran's Chat  What's New?