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Meralgia Paresthetica

Overview 

  • Meralgia paresthetica (also known as lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment) is a condition characterized by tingling, numbness and burning pain in your outer thigh. It’s caused by compression of the nerve that provides sensation to the skin covering your thigh.
  • Tight clothing, obesity or weight gain, and pregnancy are common causes of meralgia paresthetica. However, meralgia paresthetica can also be due to local trauma or a disease, such as diabetes.
  • In most cases, you can relieve meralgia paresthetica with conservative measures, such as wearing looser clothing. In severe cases, treatment may include medications to relieve discomfort or, rarely, surgery.

Symptoms

Meralgia paresthetica may cause these symptoms affecting the outer (lateral) part of your thigh:

  • Tingling and numbness
  • Burning pain
  • Decreased sensation
  • Increased sensitivity and pain to even a light touch

These symptoms commonly occur on one side of your body and might intensify after walking or standing.

Causes

  • Meralgia paresthetica occurs when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve — which supplies sensation to the surface of your outer thigh — is pinched (compressed). The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve only affects sensation and doesn’t affect your ability to use your leg muscles.
  • In most people, this nerve passes through the groin to the upper thigh without trouble. But in meralgia paresthetica, the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve becomes trapped — often under the inguinal 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
  • Obesity or weight gain
  • Wearing a heavy tool belt
  • Pregnancy
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen causing increased abdominal pressure
  • Scar tissue near the inguinal ligament due to injury or past surgery

Nerve injury, which can be due to diabetes, trauma after surgery or seat belt injury after a motor vehicle accident, for example, also can cause meralgia paresthetica.

 

Risk factors

The following might increase your risk of meralgia paresthetica:

  • Extra weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the pressure on your lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.
  • Pregnancy. A growing belly puts added pressure on your groin, through which the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve passes.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes-related nerve injury can lead to meralgia paresthetica.
  • Age. People between the ages of 30 and 60 are at a higher risk

Diagnosis

  • In most cases, your doctor can make a diagnosis of meralgia paresthetica based on your medical history and a physical exam. He or she might test the sensation of the affected thigh, ask you to describe the pain, and ask you to trace the numb or painful area on your thigh. Additional examination including strength testing and reflex testing might be done to help exclude other causes for the symptoms.

To rule out other conditions such as a nerve root problem or femoral neuropathy, your doctor might recommend:

  • Imaging studies. Although no specific changes are evident on X-ray if you have meralgia paresthetica, images of your hip and pelvic area might be helpful to exclude other conditions as a cause of your symptoms.
    A CT scan or MRI might be ordered if your doctor suspects that a tumor could be causing your pain.
  • Electromyography. This test measures the electrical discharges produced in muscles to help evaluate and diagnose muscle and nerve disorders. A thin needle electrode is placed into the muscle to record electrical activity. Results of this test are normal in meralgia paresthetica, but the test might be needed to exclude other disorders when the diagnosis isn’t clear.
  • Nerve conduction study. Patch-style electrodes are placed on your skin to stimulate the nerve with a mild electrical impulse. The electrical impulse helps diagnose damaged nerves. A comparison of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve on each side may be performed. This test might be done primarily to exclude other causes for the symptoms.
  • Nerve blockade. Pain relief achieved from anesthetic injection into your thigh where the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve enters into it can confirm that you have meralgia paresthetica. Ultrasound imaging might be used to guide the needle.

Lifestyle and home remedies

The following self-care measures can help treat and prevent meralgia paresthetica:

  • Avoid wearing tight clothing.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you’re overweight.

Our expert providers are experienced and skilled at treating meralgia paresthetica and are your source for expert treatment of meralgia paresthetica in Westminster and Denver Colorado. Not only are we the premier treatment for spine injuries and chiropractic in Westminster and Denver Colorado, but we also specialize in many other advanced treatment techniques such as shockwave, cold laser, graston technique, KT Taping, activator, instrument aided spinal alignments, drop table, toggle, in house rehab services, and on site digital xrays. We are your Premier destination for meralgia paresthetica treatment in Westminster Colorado and Denver Colorado Chiropractor.