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Solitary neurofibroma in Adult
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Solitary neurofibroma in Adult

Contributors: Noah Craft MD, PhD, Lindy P. Fox MD, Belinda Tan MD, PhD, Lowell A. Goldsmith MD, MPH
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Solitary neurofibromas are are well-circumscribed, non-encapsulated, benign tumors of neuromesenchymal tissue (Schwann cells, perineural cells, fibroblasts, and mast cells) with nerve axons. They present as asymptomatic, skin-colored or violaceous, rubbery papules or nodules. They can occur anywhere on the body. Solitary neurofibromas occur primarily in adulthood and late adolescence and are not an indication of neurofibromatosis. There is no sex predilection.


D21.9 – Benign neoplasm of connective and other soft tissue, unspecified

404030000 – Solitary neurofibroma

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Last Updated:11/01/2018
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Patient Information for Solitary neurofibroma in Adult
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Solitary neurofibroma is a type of non-cancerous growth on the skin that is caused by the cells around nerves. Imagine these supportive cells wrapping around the nerve like a tight blanket. This blanket covers the nerve to help it work properly and to help keep its shape. But if a blanket is not woven properly, the threads can sometimes lump together and form knots in certain places. This is what happens in solitary neurofibroma. The supportive cells surrounding the nerve do not grow properly and can form an abnormal lump of cells, and although they are not cancer, this is sometimes called a tumor. It is not known why or where these will occur, but when this happens at one location it is called solitary neurofibroma. If tumors are found in many locations it is called multiple neurofibromas and is associated with a medical syndrome called neurofibromatosis type I, also called Von Recklinghausen's disease. Most neurofibromas (90%) are solitary and can happen in nerves in the skin or in nerves found deep within the body.

Who’s At Risk

Solitary neurofibroma is a common non-cancerous growth, or tumor, that can happen to both men and women. Usually they are found in young people around the ages of 20 to 30.

Signs & Symptoms

A solitary neurofibroma can form in any nerve in the body but it usually shows up on the skin. It is usually painless, but sometimes it can cause weakness, numbness, or pain depending on where the growth is. When the growth forms on a nerve that is close to the skin, it can appear as a small and sometimes painful lump. When a doctor presses down on the lump it can feel like a sharp, electric pain is shooting down the body, arm, or leg. When a doctor examines the lump, they may check for "button-holing," which is when the lump folds back into the skin when pressed.

Self-Care Guidelines

If a solitary neurofibroma is painless and has no other signs or symptoms, then treatment is not necessary. It is important to remain physically active and to pay attention for numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness and to tell your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.

When to Seek Medical Care

Seek medical care if you notice bleeding or pain, or if the growth changes size or shape. Numbness, tingling, or weakness in your muscles is also a sign to seek medical care.


Treatment is not required. If requested, the only treatment for solitary neurofibroma is surgery. For small neurofibromas on the skin, dermatologists or other doctors can easily remove them in the office. Recovery from the surgery is generally immediate.

Deeper neurofibromas can be removed by a neurosurgeon who will try to remove the tumor without hurting the nerve. Having surgery done on or around a nerve comes with a small risk of paralysis, numbness, and pain. Although it is not likely for these problems to happen, they are possible. Some deeper tumors will be easier to remove than others, mostly depending on the size and location in the body. The surgery itself is not very painful, and the body part that was operated on can be used within a week or two. The pain caused by the tumor will usually go away after surgery. Numbness or weakness will also usually go away but might take weeks or months after surgery to do so. Two weeks after surgery, the doctor will prescribe physical therapy if needed.
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Solitary neurofibroma in Adult
A medical illustration showing key findings of Solitary neurofibroma : Smooth nodule, Smooth papule, Trunk
Clinical image of Solitary neurofibroma - imageId=84289. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'A close-up of a smooth pinkish nodule.'
A close-up of a smooth pinkish nodule.
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