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Focal neuropathy, also known as mononeuropathy, affects a single nerve in the body, causing it to stop working properly. It most often occurs in diabetic patients, though it is the rarest of the four neuropathies that a diabetic patient may experience. Focal neuropathy occurs when one nerve stops sending information correctly between the body and the brain and can result in sudden pain and other symptoms. While there is no technical cure for this neuropathy, it typically resolves itself in a few days or months, and certain medications can be prescribed to lessen symptoms.
Focal neuropathy is one of four neuropathies that typically only affect diabetic patients, with the other three being peripheral, autonomic, and proximal neuropathy. Focal neuropathy is found most often in older patients with diabetes and can be caused by excess body weight and unmaintained blood sugar. The most common diabetes patients who experience focal neuropathy are those who have had the disease for 25 years or more. As diabetes is being diagnosed at much younger ages, diabetic patients are often experiencing this neuropathy earlier in life.
Nerves in the body operate by sending signals to the brain, thereby telling the brain how the body feels and how the body needs to move. When only one of these nerves stops working correctly, it is known as focal neuropathy. When receiving incorrect information from the nerve, the brain can cause the body to experience sudden and oftentimes debilitating symptoms. The most common of these is severe pain, usually in the eyes, head, upper body, or legs. It can also cause double vision, difficulty focusing the eyes, lower back pain, and paralysis of one side of the face, also known as Bell’s palsy.
While this neuropathy does tend to improve, the symptoms often associated with it can be difficult for a patient to handle while the nerve repairs itself. The most common medications used to treat the symptoms of this nerve disorder are anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, pain drugs, and pain patches. Maintaining blood sugar levels, eating a healthy diet, and exercising safely and regularly can also help focal neuropathy to resolve itself much more quickly. It can also help to lessen the severity of the symptoms.
The onset of this neuropathy and its symptoms are usually sudden and severe; there is usually no lasting damage to the body, however. Despite this, it can significantly hinder quality of life and ability to perform day-to-day tasks. Being vigilant about maintaining blood sugar levels and reducing body fat are two ways to avoid developing focal neuropathy.