What is Mononeuritis Multiplex?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Mononeuritis multiplex is a difficult grouping of symptoms that is caused by affected nerves in at least two areas of the body. This damage to the nerves is typically limited to the peripheral nervous system and does not affect the central nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and brain. Which peripheral nerves cease to function properly is highly variable, as are the causes of these symptoms. Cause may very much determine degree of success in treatment.

What is occurring in mononeuritis multiplex is deterioration of part of the nerve cell, neuron, called the axon.
What is occurring in mononeuritis multiplex is deterioration of part of the nerve cell, neuron, called the axon.

What is occurring in mononeuritis multiplex is deterioration of part of the nerve cell called the axon. The axon’s job is essentially to signal or transmit information. If this is damaged, numerous symptoms may result.

These can include sensations of difficult pain or less than average sensation, which could manifest on a spectrum that begins with numb feelings and ends with paralysis. Within this spectrum includes the inability to control various parts of the body, even if they can still be felt to a degree. It’s important to recall that there are many possible areas of the body that could be affected and this means symptoms are variable among individuals.

There is significant confusion over cause of mononeuritis multiplex because this, too, may be highly varied. Sometimes, despite thorough examination, doctors can find no specific reason why it is occurring. In other circumstances a variety of diseases might result in axon damage. These include some forms of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, diseases that swell the blood vessels such as polyarteritis nodosa, and some forms of lupus. Some infectious diseases like Lyme disease and leprosy are indicated as causal factors in manifestations of this illness, or alternately, inflammatory conditions like sarcoidosis may result in axon damage to at least two different nerve areas.

Treatment for this condition is a twofold process. Part of it is addressing the difficulties that arise from nerve damage and doing all possible to protect a person from accidental injury as a result of poorly functioning nerves. In the former, treating pain and increasing mobility are desirable goals. With the latter, making certain movement doesn’t create injury inside or outside of home is important.

More important is trying to arrest continued nerve damage by treatment of identified underlying conditions. Mononeuritis multiplex may be completely reversed or at least halted if doctors can identify its cause and have the means to treat it successfully. Not all of the diseases or conditions mentioned above respond fully to treatment, but some of them do. The best-case scenario is that full reversal of symptoms occurs due to successful treatments of underlying diseases. Second best is that treatment can arrest mononeuritis multiplex so that no more nerve damage occurs.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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