Meralgia Paresthetica

What is Meralgia Paresthetica?

Meralgia Paresthetica is an isolated nerve condition primarily affecting the outer thighs. When blood circulation or nerve connections to these areas is interrupted, numbness and tingling sets in and can persist for hours or even days.

It’s primarily caused by damage to the nerves in the thigh area. Reasons for nerve damage include the wearing of overly tight pants, fat accumulation, traumatic injury to the area, neuropathy caused by diseases like diabetes, and standing for hours on end.

What are the Symptoms of Meralgia Paresthetica?

Meralgia paresthetica results in numbness along the surface of the outer thighs along with other symptoms.

Symptoms include

  • Pain and tenderness in the area before, after, or during the numbness
  • Increased sensations in response to lighter touches rather than firmer pressure
  • Burning and tingling over the surface of the skin
  • Sensitivity to heat or even warmth in the thigh area

Symptoms may come and go depending on how much pressure is being exerted on the nerves in the thigh. Other more serious causes of nerve symptoms are ruled out with imaging and nerve conduction testing before a diagnosis of meralgia paresthetica is confirmed.

Meralgia Paresthetica Causes

Meralgia Paresthetica is caused by the pinching or compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which is the nerve that controls sensation of the outer thigh. When this happens, the outer thigh may feel numb and tingle, or the individual may feel a burning sensation in that area. The compression of this nerve is caused by pressure applied to the groin. The nerve runs beneath the inguinal ligament, which can trap it, as a result of the pressure.

Anything that can apply excessive pressure to the area of the groin may contribute to the development of this condition. Tight clothing and accessories, including belts, corsets, and stockings, can cause meralgia paresthetica. Also, a heavy tool belt can produce the same result, even if it’s worn loosely about the waist. Pregnancy, weight gain, and obesity are all physiological factors that can create the type of groin pressure responsible for developing this condition. Nerve injury and scar tissue near the inguinal ligament can also be responsible for meralgia paresthetica.

How is Meralgia Paresthetica Treated?

Changing to loose clothing and remove tight belts or shoes can relieve short-term causes of this condition. For more long-lasting symptoms, you may need to lose weight or get cortisone injections to numb the inflamed nerves.

Exercise can be difficult with thigh numbness and pain, but it is one of the best treatments for restoring nerve and blood flow to the area. Only cases with confirmed nerve entrapment in the hip or groin area will respond positively to surgery.

Meralgia Paresthetica Prevention

There are several ways to prevent this condition from occurring and following proper safety guidelines is key to keeping groin pressure at a minimum. When engaging in physically strenuous activities, such as hiking, bicycling, or running, frequent breaks are advised. Long periods of activity may lead to a pinching of the nerve responsible for meralgia paresthetica.

Additionally, clothing worn around the front hip area should be loose-fitting and comfortable. As weight gain and obesity can pose a risk for meralgia paresthetica, frequent exercise and a healthy diet can also reduce the risks associated with developing this condition.

Early symptoms, such as leg numbness or tingling in other parts of the body, should be taken as a cue that meralgia paresthetica is in its early stages. The individual should stop what he or she is doing and see a physician as soon as possible.