Diabetic focal neuropathy

Diabetic focal neuropathy, sometimes called mononeuropathy, affects a single nerve, most often in the wrist, thigh, or foot. It may also affect the nerves of the back and chest, as well as those that control the eye muscles.

Focal neuropathy is far less common than peripheral or autonomic neuropathy. It occurs mostly in older people with diabetes. Focal neuropathies usually come on suddenly and then improve on their own within 6 to 8 weeks.

Focal neuropathy may cause:

  • Pain in a single, limited area of the body, such as a wrist or foot. When focal neuropathy causes nerve entrapment, soreness and pain may develop gradually over several weeks or months.
  • Pain in and around one of the eyes, difficulty moving the eyes, and double vision. This occurs when one of the cranial nerves is affected.
  • Bandlike pain around the chest or abdomen.
  • Weakness and pain in the lower back, often extending to the thigh (femoral neuropathy), sometimes causing paralysis.

If you have diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, you are also more likely to get focal neuropathy from pressure points. To avoid creating pressure points:

  • Don't cross either one of your legs over the other knee.
  • Don't lean your elbows on hard surfaces.

Last Updated: June 3, 2008

Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

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