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Meralgia Paresthetica

Meralgia paresthetica is caused by irritation of the nerve that goes to the outside of your thigh.  This nerve is called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN).

Symptoms

Patients with meralgia paresthetica will experience discomfort in the front, outer portion of the thigh. This may be described as where you would touch if you were to have your hands in your pockets, resting on their thighs. There may be numbness, a burning feeling, or a combination of the two. Sometimes things that are not normally painful, such as your clothing touching that area, may cause pain (allodynia).

Causes

Meralgia paresthetica is caused by the trapping or “pinching” of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve as it travels from your spine through the pelvis and into your leg. The nerve can be affected along any portion of this course, but it usually becomes trapped as it leaves the pelvis into the leg.

This nerve can become trapped as a result of trauma, from the constant pressure of tight clothing, a tool belt or a gun holster, or from increases in abdominal pressure associated with weight gain and pregnancy. The nerve may also be damaged by chronic conditions affecting nerves such as diabetes. 

Treatments

Through a conversation between you and your JLR Center for Pain Medicine doctor, a treatment plan will be devised. This care plan will depend on your unique symptoms and examination. A thorough history and physical exam will allow us to tailor your care plan.

Early treatment focuses on confirmation of the diagnosis and activation of a treatment plan to alleviate pain. You and your pain management physician may discuss simple changes that you can make to help alleviate your pain, depending on the cause such as wearing looser clothing, changing how you wear your tool belt or your holster, or pursuing weight loss options.

Your pain management physician may prescribe a combination of medications to include nerve-stabilizing medications (anti-convulsants), anti-depressants which also work to stabilize the nerve, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and topical patches and creams. Your doctor may also suggest administration of a nerve block to help alleviate some of the pain. If the pain persists, despite the initial treatment options, your provider may suggest a spinal cord stimulator trial.  Rarely is surgery required to alleviate symptoms.