If you experience tingling, burning pain or numbness in the thigh, you may have meralgia paresthetica. Meralgia paresthetica is a condition caused by compression of the nerve that supplies sensation to the thigh’s skin surface. The pain physicians at OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine®, proudly serving the Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas area, are experienced at diagnosing and treating this condition.

What is Meralgia Paresthetica?

Meralgia paresthetica is caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, a large sensory nerve located in the leg. This particular sensory nerve is part of the lumbar plexus nerve network responsible for providing sensation to the thigh and leg. As a sensory nerve, it does not operate muscles.

Meralgia paresthetica is caused when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve that runs through the pelvis, groin and into the thigh becomes entrapped, or compressed. Common causes of this compression include weight gain, pregnancy, repetitive leg movement, recent hip injury and wearing clothing too tight.

What are the Symptoms of Meralgia Paresthetica?

Patients can experience several symptoms when this particular sensory nerve is compressed. These symptoms include:

  • Numbness in the thigh
  • Tingling in the thigh
  • Burning pain in the thigh
  • Sensitivity to light touch, but not deep pressure

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How is Meralgia Paresthetica Treated?

If a patient experiences burning pain, tingling or numbness in the thigh, it is important to schedule a consultation with a pain physician as quickly as possible to determine if meralgia paresthetica is present.

A physician will conduct a complete medical history review and physical examination. During the examination, the physician may touch the affected thigh to determine pain level and exact location of pain. In many cases, diagnostic tests, including X-rays, an MRI, a nerve conduction study or nerve blockade, are performed to rule out any other conditions and confirm the diagnosis.

The tingling, burning pain and numbness in the thigh associated with meralgia paresthetica can be treated in a number of ways, depending on severity of nerve compression. Conservative measures are typically the first treatment step and include losing weight, wearing looser clothing and taking over the counter pain medications.

If the symptoms persist, a physical therapy program may be recommended to strengthen the leg and buttocks muscles, reducing the risk of injury to the hips. A physician may also recommend the use of a corticosteroid injection or other medication to alleviate symptoms.

The pain physicians at OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine® are available to assist patients experiencing tingling, burning pain and numbness in the thigh and to diagnose the condition meralgia paresthetica.