Meralgia paraesthetica is a condition that occurs when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve providing sensation to the outer part of the thigh becomes compressed. Patients often experience numbness, a tingling or burning sensation, a dull ache, or itching that can cause mild to severe discomfort on the side of the thigh.
It is generally seen in middle-aged individuals who are overweight and is more prevalent in men than women. However, it may also be seen in diabetics or women who are pregnant or are prone to wearing slacks with tight waist bands.
What are the causes?
Compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve may be caused by something as simple as tight clothing or belt, or by injury, surgery, diabetes, pregnancy, and in rare instances, infections. Often a specific cause cannot be determined.
Is meralgia paraesthetica preventable?
Maintaining an ideal body weight and wearing loose fitting clothing will, in most cases, prevent meralgia paraesthetica.
What treatment options are available?
Treatments used at PainCare for meralgia paraesthetica usually include simple injections of local anesthetic and steroids in addition to other topical creams to reduce swelling and irritation of the nerve. With repetition, this course of treatment usually eliminates the pain completely. Occasionally the nerve is blocked as it exits the spinal canal. Rarely, more drastic measures such as radiofrequency lesioning can be used to partially destroy the nerve in order to reduce the severe, persistent pain. Of course, overweight patients have the responsibility to achieve an ideal body weight, and those who wear tight-fitting slacks should refrain from doing so.
For severe cases of meralgia paraesthetica that cannot be managed as noted above, a peripheral nerve surgeon may be consulted to explore the nerve and free it up from possible scar tissue, or remove the nerve in order to eliminate further pain and suffering. In general, surgical approaches are reserved as a last resort.
When should I call PainCare?
If you experience numbness, a tingling or burning sensation, a dull ache, or intense itching along the outer thighs for more than a few weeks, call PainCare to make an appointment to be seen by one of our specialists.