What is mononeuropathy?

Mononeuropathy is damage that occurs to a single nerve. This damage can cause an individual pain, loss of movement, and or numbness.

Mononeuropathy occurs when covering of the nerve (the myelin sheath) or part of the nerve cell is damaged. The damage prevents nerves from spreading signals.

What nerves can be affected by mononeuropathy?

Technically, any individual nerve in the body can be affected by mononeuropathy. However, nerves that run close to the skin or near a bone are most likely to be affected. These include:

  • The median nerve in the wrist. This causes the most common form of mononeuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • The ulnar nerve in the elbow.
  • The radial nerve in the upper arm.
  • The peroneal nerve just below the knee.
  • The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve in the legs.

Who gets mononeuropathy?

Anyone can be affected by mononeuropathy. Any nerve that is subject to prolonged compression or other stress can be affected.

People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes may be at higher risk of developing mononeuropathy.

What causes mononeuropathy?

The causes of mononeuropathy vary depending on the affected nerves. It can be caused by repetitive motions, injury, and long-term pressure on a nerve due to an injury or swelling. Injuries that can cause mononeuropathy include:

  • Pressure from a poorly fit cast or crutches.
  • Pressure from staying in a cramped position for a long time.
  • Pressure on nerves caused when confined to bed or paralyzed.
  • Injuries from radiation therapy.
  • Systemic or infectious diseases that may invade a nerve.

What are the symptoms of mononeuropathy?

Symptoms of mononeuropathy vary depending on the affected nerve. The most common symptoms are:

  • Loss of feeling in the affected area.
  • Weakness in the affected area.
  • Pain or burning.
  • A feeling of “pins and needles.”

You should consult your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms. Untreated mononeuropathy can lead to:

  • Deformity.
  • Loss of muscle mass.
  • Permanent disability.
  • Loss of sensation.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/08/2016.


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