Proximal Neuropathy

What is proximal neuropathy?

Proximal neuropathy is a rare and disabling type of nerve damage in your hip, buttock, or thigh. This type of nerve damage typically affects one side of your body and may rarely spread to the other side.

Proximal neuropathy is more common in men than in women and more common in people older than age 50. Most people with this condition have type 2 diabetes.

What causes proximal neuropathy?

Over time, high blood glucose, also called blood sugar, and high levels of fats, such as triglycerides, in the blood from diabetes can damage your nerves and the small blood vessels that nourish your nerves, leading to proximal neuropathy.

What are the symptoms of proximal neuropathy?

Symptoms may include

  • sudden and sometimes severe pain in your hip, buttock, or thigh
  • weakness in your legs that makes it difficult to stand from a sitting position
  • loss of reflexes such as the knee-jerk reflex—the automatic movement of your lower leg when a doctor taps the area below your knee cap
  • muscle wasting, or the loss of muscle tissue
  • weight loss

After symptoms start, they typically get worse and then gradually improve over a period of months or years. In many cases, the symptoms do not go away completely.

Man standing up from sitting with a hand on his painful hip.
Symptoms of proximal neuropathy may include sudden and sometimes severe pain in your hip, buttock, or thigh.

How do doctors diagnose proximal neuropathy?

Doctors diagnose proximal neuropathy by asking about your symptoms and performing tests, such as nerve conduction studies and electromyography (EMG). Nerve conduction studies check how fast electrical signals move through your nerves in different parts of your body. EMG shows how your muscles respond to your nerves.

How can I help treat proximal neuropathy?

You can help treat proximal neuropathy by managing your diabetes, which means managing your blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

How do doctors treat proximal neuropathy?

Your doctor may treat the pain of proximal neuropathy with the same medicines used to treat peripheral neuropathy pain.

Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to help increase your strength, and occupational therapy to help you with daily activities.

Most people recover from proximal neuropathy within a few years, even without treatment.

February 2018
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Rodica Pop-Busui, M.D., Ph.D., University of Michigan