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. Diseases affecting the entire body (systemic disorders) can also 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 common forms of mononeuropathy include:
Symptoms depend on the specific nerve affected, and may include:
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:
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:
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.
Complications may include:
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.
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.