Your obturator nerve is in your groin. It enables sensation and muscle movement in your inner thigh. Sports injuries and medical procedure complications can damage the nerve (obturator neuropathy).
Your obturator nerve is one of many peripheral nerves that run through your groin. It’s part of your peripheral nervous system. This system helps your brain communicate with the rest of your body.
The beginning of your obturator nerve (nerve root) is in your lumbar plexus. The lumbar plexus is a network of nerves that enables movement and sensation (innervation) in your lower limbs. These include your upper and lower leg along with your foot.
Other nerves in this area include your:
This nerve provides motor (muscle movement) and sensory (sensation) to your inner thigh.
For motor functions, muscles along your obturator nerve help you:
For sensory functions, your obturator nerve provides sensation to your:
Healthcare providers may inject medication into your obturator nerve to lessen sensation (nerve block).
You may need an obturator nerve block to:
Nerve fibers that make up your obturator nerve start in the lower part of your spine. This includes spine bones (vertebrae) L2, L3 and L4.
Your obturator nerve’s course includes:
Once it reaches your groin area, your obturator nerve divides into three major branches:
Occasionally, your anterior branch also provides motor function for your pectineus muscles in your upper and inner thigh. Usually, your femoral (thigh) nerve provides movement for these muscles, but this can result as a rare variation of typical anatomy.
One of the main issues of an obturator nerve injury is neuropathic pain. Conditions that cause it include:
Complications of pelvic surgery can affect your obturator nerve. This area has many complex structures. It offers limited space for navigating surgical instruments. Healthcare providers can injure your nerve while trying to access the surgical site. During surgery, your obturator nerve can be briefly compressed, stretched and, less often, damaged by surgical hardware.
Some surgeries, as well as childbirth, require leg positions in which your leg is positioned away from your body, putting tension on your obturator nerve.
Types of surgery that can cause obturator neuropathy include:
It might not be possible to prevent some causes of obturator neuropathy. Trauma from childbirth or crush injuries can be out of your control.
There are steps you can take to prevent obturator nerve sports injuries, including:
Obturator neuropathy causes symptoms that linger and typically don’t improve over time.
Contact your healthcare provider if you experience:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Your obturator nerve helps you flex your hip. It also enables rotating your leg away from your body. There are many situations that can affect your obturator nerve. These include sports injuries and complications of childbirth or medical procedures. Some people experience obturator neuropathy, which causes stubborn pain. Sophisticated therapies, like nerve blocks, can help you feel better.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/17/2022.
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