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Meralgia Paresthetica


Disease: Meralgia Paresthetica Meralgia Paresthetica
Category: Bones, joints, muscles diseases
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Disease Definition:

The condition that is characterized by tingling, numbness and burning pain in the outer part of the thigh is called meralgia paresthetica. The compression of the nerve that supplies sensation to the skin surface of the upper leg is the cause of meralgia paresthetica.

The common causes of meralgia paresthetica are pregnancy, obesity or weight gain, and tight clothing. However, meralgia paresthetica may also be caused by a local trauma or from a disease, like diabetes.

With conservative measures such as wearing looser clothing, meralgia paresthetica can be relieved in most cases. To relieve discomfort in severe cases, treatment may include medications or surgery in some rare cases. 

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The symptoms of meralgia paresthetica may be caused by pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve which supplies sensation to the upper leg; these symptoms are:


  • Burning pain in or on the surface of the outer part of the thigh
  • Tingling and numbness in the outer (lateral) part of the thigh
  • Less commonly, dull pain in the groin area or across the buttocks

 The symptoms mentioned above may intensify after walking or standing, and they usually occur only on one side of the body. 
When experiencing any of the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica such as tingling, numbness or burning pain in the outer part of the thigh, one should see the doctor.


When the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which is a nerve that supplies sensation to the surface of the upper thigh, becomes compressed or "pinched", meralgia paresthetica occurs. The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is just a sensory nerve and it doesn't affect the ability to use one's leg muscles.

This nerve passes through the groin to the upper thigh without trouble in most people. However, in meralgia paresthetica, the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve becomes trapped, often under the inguinal ligament that runs along the groin from the abdomen to the upper thigh.

Any condition that increases pressure on the groin is included in the common causes of this compression:


  • Scar tissue near the inguinal ligament due to injury or past surgery
  • Tight clothing
  • Walking, cycling or standing for long periods of time
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

Meralgia paresthetica can also be caused by nerve injury due to diabetes or seat belt injury following a motor vehicle accident.
Middle-aged people, between the ages of 40 and 60, are at higher risk of meralgia paresthetica.





Relieving compression of the nerve, which may include self-care measures such as wearing looser clothing or losing weight, is what treatment for meralgia paresthetica focuses on. For most people, these conservative measures are effective, with pain usually going away on its own within a few months. If the patient has bothersome pain, mild pain relievers such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs may be helpful.

Treatment may include the following if pain is severe or the symptoms persist for more than two months:

Tricyclic antidepressants:
Pain may be relieved by these medications

Gabapentin or pregabalin:
These anti-seizure medications may help lessen the painful symptoms

Corticosteroid injections:
Inflammation can be reduced and pain may be temporarily relieved by injections

To decompress the nerve, surgery is considered in some rare cases. This option is only for people with severe and long-lasting symptoms.


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