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Multiple Mononeuropathy

(Mononeuritis Multiplex)

By Michael Rubin, MDCM, Professor of Clinical Neurology, Weill Cornell Medical College; Attending Neurologist and Director, Neuromuscular Service and EMG Laboratory, New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Medical Center

Multiple mononeuropathy is the simultaneous malfunction of two or more peripheral nerves in separate areas of the body. It causes abnormal sensations and weakness.

Multiple mononeuropathy typically affects only a few nerves, often in different areas of the body. In contrast, polyneuropathy affects many nerves, usually in about the same areas on both sides of the body. However, if multiple mononeuropathy involves many nerves, it may be difficult to distinguish from polyneuropathy.

Several disorders can cause multiple mononeuropathy, and each disorder produces characteristic symptoms. The most common cause is probably

  • Diabetes, although diabetes more commonly causes polyneuropathy

Other common causes of multiple mononeuropathy include

A disorder may affect the nerves all at once or affect them progressively, a few at a time.

People have pain, weakness, abnormal sensations, or a combination of these symptoms in the areas supplied by the affected nerves. Symptoms often begin on one side of the body. When diabetes is the cause, nerves anywhere in the body can be affected, and as a result, weakness may affect any muscle.

Doctors diagnose multiple mononeuropathy based on symptoms and results of a physical examination, but electromyography and nerve conduction tests are usually done to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of multiple mononeuropathy depends on the cause.