Meralgia paresthetica is the name given to the tingling, numbness and burning pain in the outer thigh. The cause of meralgia paresthetica is compression of the nerve that supplies sensation to the skin surface of the thigh. It happens when there is too much pressure on or damage to this nerve in your leg. It is a type of neuropathy that only affects this one nerve. This is a purely sensory nerve and doesn’t affect your ability to use your leg muscles (it is not a motor nerve).
The nerve is called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which supplies sensation to your upper thigh. Thus pressure will cause:
- Tingling and numbness in the outer (lateral) part of your thigh
- Burning pain in or on the surface of the outer part of your thigh
These symptoms commonly occur only on one side of your body and may intensify after walking or standing.
In most people, this nerve passes through the groin to the upper thigh without trouble. But in meralgia paresthetica, this nerve becomes trapped — often under the ligament which runs along your groin from your abdomen to your upper thigh.
Common causes of this compression include any condition that increases pressure on the groin, including:
- Tight clothing, such as belts, corsets and tight pants even wearing a heavy tool belt.
- Obesity or weight gain which may increase the pressure on the nerve.
- Pregnancy, growing belly puts added pressure on this nerve.
- Scar tissue near the ligament that the nerve passes through due to injury or past surgery
- Seat belt injury after a motor vehicle accident, or any trauma
- Anything which causes nerve damage can injure this nerve
In most cases, meralgia paresthetica can be relieved with conservative measures, such as wearing looser clothing, or losing weight. The nerve most often will become healthy again.
If it doesn’t lessen, medical doctors will suggest drugs to cover up the symptoms, or surgery. There are other remedies for nerve injury.
For more information about what can cause this and what to do.
See: Trauma, or compression nerve damage
See: Trauma cause of nerve damage
See: Causes and Risk for Nerve Damage
See: Neuropathy and what can be done about it
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