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Meralgia Paresthetica

Information about burning thigh pain

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Updated April 10, 2014

Meralgia paresthetica is a condition that can cause burning pain over the front and outside of the thigh. There is a nerve that passes just over the brim of the pelvis and down the outside of the thigh. This nerve, called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, supplies the brain with information about sensation over the front and outside of the thigh.

What causes meralgia paresthetica?
Meralgia paresthetica is the condition that is caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. There can be a number of causes to this problem, but it is frequently seen in pregnancy, individuals who suddenly gain weight, patients who wear tight clothing or belts, and some other conditions.

What are the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica?
Patients who have meralgia paresthetica may complain of some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Pain or burning over the outside of the thigh

  • Numbness over the outside of the thigh

  • Sensitivity to light touch over the outside of the thigh

  • Worsening of symptoms with certain positions

  • Increased symptoms when wearing tight belts, work belts, or tight-waist clothes

  • Recent weight gain or pregnancy
What is the treatment of meralgia paresthetica?
It depends on which of these factors may be contributing to your symptoms. If the cause is due to tight-fitting clothing, belts, or work belts, then modifying these should alleviate your symptoms. Patients who are pregnant usually have complete resolution of their symptoms after delivery. If recent weight gain is thought to contribute to the condition, then a weight loss program may be recommended.

If simple measures do not relieve your symptoms of meralgia paresthetica, then a cortisone injection around the nerve may be helpful. The hope is to reduce inflammation that may be contributing to the pressure on the nerve.

Surgery is rarely necessary in the treatment of meralgia paresthetica. Only when all conservative treatments fail to provide relief, a surgical procedure may be considered. Your surgeon would dissect and identify the nerve, look for locations of compression, and try to free the nerve from any areas where it may be pinched.

Source:

Grossman MG, et al. "Meralgia Paresthetica: Diagnosis and Treatment" J Am Acad Orthop Surg, Vol 9, No 5, September/October 2001, 336-344.

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