What is meralgia paresthetica?

Meralgia paresthetica is a medical condition resulting from compression (pressure on or squeezing) of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN). This large nerve supplies sensation to the front and side of your thigh. Meralgia paresthetica results in sensations of aching, burning, numbness, or stabbing in the thigh area.

Who is likely to have meralgia paresthetica?

Anyone can develop meralgia paresthetica. However, you are more likely to develop this condition if you are:

  • Diabetic
  • Exposed to lead paint
  • Injured by your seatbelt during a car accident
  • Overweight or obese
  • Pregnant
  • Recovering from a recent surgery

You are also more likely to develop meralgia paresthetica if you:

  • Wear tight clothing, girdles, or tight stockings or wear a heavy utility belt (like a tool belt or police gun belt)
  • Have legs of two different lengths
  • Live with medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or alcoholism

What causes meralgia paresthetica?

Meralgia paresthetica results from the compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN). The LFCN is a large sensory nerve. It travels from your spinal cord through your pelvic region and down the outside of your thigh. Meralgia paresthetica symptoms occur when the LFCN is compressed (squeezed).

A variety of factors cause compression of the LFCN. These can include injury to the hip area; medical conditions like obesity, pregnancy, and diabetes; and wearing clothing that is too tight or belts in the waist area.

What are the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica?

Many people with meralgia paresthetica experience symptoms including:

  • Pain on the outer thigh, which may extend down to the outer side of the knee
  • Burning, aching, tingling, stabbing or numbness in the thigh
  • Symptoms on only one side of the body
  • Worse pain when your thigh is touched lightly
  • Worse pain after walking or standing for long periods of time
  • Occasionally, aching in the groin that may spread to the buttocks

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