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Mononeuropathy is damage to a single nerve, which results in loss of movement, sensation, or other function of that nerve.
Neuropathy; Isolated mononeuritis
Mononeuropathy is a type of damage to a nerve outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral neuropathy).
Mononeuropathy is most often caused by injury, although body-wide (systemic) disorders may cause isolated nerve damage.
Long-term pressure on a nerve due to swelling or injury can result in mononeuropathy. The covering of the nerve (myelin sheath) or part of the nerve cell (the axon) may be damaged. This damage slows or prevents signals from traveling through the damaged nerves.
Mononeuropathy may involve any part of the body. Some of the common forms of mononeuropathy include:
Symptoms depend on the specific nerve affected, and may include:
Exams and Tests
A detailed medical history is needed to determine the possible cause of the disorder. An examination and nerve and muscle testing may show a loss of feeling, movement, or other problems with a specific nerve. Reflexes may be abnormal.
Tests may include:
Other tests may include:
The goal of treatment is to allow you to use the affected body part as much as possible.
Some medical conditions, such as diabetes, make nerves more prone to injury. Controlling the medical problems may prevent further nerve injury. High blood pressure and diabetes can injure an artery, which can often affect a single nerve. The underlying condition should be treated.
Corticosteroids injected into the area may reduce swelling and pressure on the nerve if it is being pinched or trapped against another part of the body, such as a bone. Surgery may be recommended if symptoms are caused by entrapment of the nerve. Surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve may help in some cases.
Over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine may be needed to control pain (neuralgia
Prescription medications such as gabapentin, pregabalin, phenytoin, carbamazepine, or antidepressants such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline, or duloxetine may be used to reduce stabbing pains. Whenever possible, avoid or minimize the use of these drugs to reduce the risk of medication side effects.
Physical therapy exercises to maintain muscle strength
Orthopedic braces, splints
, or other appliances
Vocational counseling, occupational therapy, occupational changes, job retraining
Mononeuropathy may be disabling and painful. If the cause of the nerve dysfunction can be found and successfully treated, a full recovery is possible and even likely in some cases.
The amount of disability varies from no disability to partial or complete loss of movement or sensation. Nerve pain may be uncomfortable and may last for a long time.
- Deformity, loss of tissue mass
- Medication side effects
- Repeated or unnoticed injury to the affected area due to lack of sensation
Avoiding pressure or traumatic injury may prevent many forms of mononeuropathy. Treating conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes also decreases your risk of developing the condition.
Katirji B, Koontz D. Disorders of peripheral nerves. In: Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 76.
Shy ME. Peripheral neuropathies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 428.
- Last reviewed on 7/27/2014
- Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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