MononeuropathyNeuropathy; Isolated mononeuritis
Mononeuropathy is damage to a single nerve, which results in loss of movement, sensation, or other function of that nerve.
Loss of movement
Muscle function loss is when a muscle does not work or move normally. The medical term for complete loss of muscle function is paralysis.
Mononeuropathy is a type of damage to a nerve outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral neuropathy).
Peripheral nerves carry information to and from the brain. They also carry signals to and from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. Peripheral n...
Mononeuropathy is most often caused by injury. Diseases affecting the entire body (systemic disorders) can also cause isolated nerve damage.
Systemic means affecting the entire body, rather than a single organ or body part. For example, systemic disorders, such as high blood pressure, or s...
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.
Myelin is an insulating layer, or sheath that forms around nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord. It is made up of protein and fatty ...
Mononeuropathy may involve any part of the body. Some common forms of mononeuropathy include:
- Axillary nerve dysfunction (loss of movement or sensation in the shoulder)
- Common peroneal nerve dysfunction (loss of movement or sensation in the foot and leg)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (median nerve dysfunction -- including numbness, tingling, weakness, or muscle damage in the hand and fingers)
Cranial mononeuropathy III, IV, compression or diabetic type
Cranial mononeuropathy III is a nerve disorder. It affects the function of the third cranial nerve. As a result, the person may have double vision ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Cranial mononeuropathy VI (double vision)
- Cranial mononeuropathy VII (facial paralysis)
- Femoral nerve dysfunction (loss of movement or sensation in part of the leg)
- Radial nerve dysfunction (problems with movement in the arm and wrist and with sensation in the back of the arm or hand)
- Sciatic nerve dysfunction (problem with the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg, and sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and sole of the foot)
- Ulnar nerve dysfunction (cubital tunnel syndrome -- including numbness, tingling, weakness of outer and underside of arm, palm, ring and little fingers)
Symptoms depend on the specific nerve affected, and may include:
- Loss of sensation
Tingling, burning, pain, abnormal sensations
Numbness and tingling are abnormal sensations that can occur anywhere in your body, but they are often felt in your fingers, hands, feet, arms, or le...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam and focus on the affected area. A detailed medical history is needed to determine the possible cause of the disorder.
Tests that may be done include:
- Electromyogram (EMG) to check the electrical activity in the muscles
- Nerve conduction tests (NCV) to check the speed of electrical activity in the nerves
- Nerve ultrasound to view the nerves
X-ray, MRI or CT scan to get an overall view of the affected area
X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. An x-ray machine sends individual x-ray particles through the body. The im...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the body. It does not us...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Blood tests
- Nerve biopsy (in case of mononeuropathy due to vasculitis)
- CSF examination
- Skin biopsy
The goal of treatment is to allow you to use the affected body part as much as possible.
Some medical conditions make nerves more prone to injury. For example, high blood pressure and diabetes can injure an artery, which can often affect a single nerve. So, the underlying condition should be treated.
Treatment options may include any of the following:
- Over the counter painkillers, such as anti-inflammatory medicines for mild pain
- Antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and similar medicines for chronic pain
- Injections of steroid medicines to reduce swelling and pressure on the nerve
- Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerve
- Physical therapy exercises to maintain muscle strength
- Braces, splints, or other devices to help with movement
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to improve nerve pain associated with diabetes
Mononeuropathy may be disabling and painful. If the cause of the nerve dysfunction can be found and successfully treated, a full recovery is possible in some cases.
Nerve pain may be uncomfortable and last for a long time.
Neuralgia is a sharp, shocking pain that follows the path of a nerve and is due to irritation or damage to the nerve. Common neuralgias include:Posth...
Complications may include:
- Deformity, loss of tissue mass
- Medicine 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 the risk of developing the condition.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet. Updated March 16, 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.
Smith G, Shy ME. Peripheral neuropathies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 392.
Snow DC, Bunney EB. Peripheral nerve disorders. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 97.
Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system - illustration
The central nervous system comprises the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system includes all peripheral nerves.
Central nervous system and peripheral nervous system
Review Date: 6/23/2020
Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.