The femoral nerve is the largest of five nerve branches of the lumbar plexus. This network of nerves is in the abdominal part of the torso (lower spine). You have a femoral nerve on each side of your body that helps you bend and straighten your hips and knees. It also sends touch, pain and temperature sensations from your legs to your brain.
The femoral nerve is one of the largest nerves in the leg. It has a motor function to help you move your hips, legs, ankles and feet. It also has a sensory function, helping you feel touch, pain and hot or cold temperatures.
The femoral nerve is part of the peripheral nervous system. This system sends signals from your brain to the lower limbs, upper limbs and some organs.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
The femoral nerve is one of two major nerves that provide motor (movement) and sensory functions to the lower limbs. The femoral nerve is for the front of the leg, while the sciatic nerve serves the back of the leg.
The femoral nerve:
The femoral nerve:
Near the pubic bone, the femoral nerve branches into the anterior (superficial) femoral nerve and the posterior (deep) femoral nerve. Each of these branches provide certain motor or sensory functions:
Conditions that damage or affect the femoral nerve include:
Wearing tight clothing or a heavy toolbelt around the waist can lead to lateral femoral cutaneous nerve problems. Other possible causes include:
Pain that radiates from your back and hips into your legs (radicular pain) is a common sign of femoral nerve damage. Other symptoms include:
Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and evaluate your symptoms. Your provider may also order one or more of these tests to make a diagnosis:
A knee-jerk reflex test is often part of a standard physical exam. Healthcare providers perform this simple test to check for signs of potential peripheral nerve damage.
During the test:
This reflex is known as the Westphal sign. If there’s little or no reaction, you may have a pinched nerve or nerve damage.
Treatments for femoral nerve problems include:
These steps can keep your nervous system healthy:
You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
The femoral nerves help you bend and straighten your hips and legs. The nerves also send sensations from the leg to the brain. Healthcare providers sometimes use femoral nerve blocks to ease pain in people recovering from broken knees or knee replacement surgery. Trauma, surgery or constriction (tightness) near the nerve can damage the femoral nerves, leading to pain, weakness or numbness. A pinched nerve or herniated disk in the lumbar region can also cause nerve pain. See your provider if you have pain in your legs or trouble walking — they can find the source and offer solutions.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/20/2021.
Learn more about our editorial process.