Burning and Tingling in the Leg? It might be Meralgia Paresthetica.

by Jessica M. Fike, OMS-IV

Are you experiencing burning, numbness, or tingling along the front and outer part of your thigh? You may be experiencing a condition known as meralgia paresthetica.

Meralgia Paresthetica (also known as “Burning Thigh Syndrome”) results when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (the nerve that provides sensation to the skin overlying your front and outer thigh) gets trapped under the ligament that runs along your groin area from hip bone to pubic bone.

What Causes Meralgia Paresthetica?

As Dr. Martin Taylor of OrthoNeuro explains; the usual culprits are the “three Bs: Bellies, Babies, and Belts.” Obesity, pregnancy, and restrictive clothing Santa such as a tight leather belt or even your favorite skinny jeans can lead to meralgia paresthetica.

The extra weight associated with obesity or pregnancy can put pressure on the areas along which the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve runs. Meralgia paresthetica can also be associated with injuries to the outer thigh or surgeries such as hernia repair.

Symptoms of Meralgia Paresthetica

Symptoms of burning thigh syndrome include numbness, tingling, and commonly burning pain. Patients with this condition may have difficulty sensing light touch or sharp pinprick along the affected area.

Patients should not, however, have trouble bending their hip up to the ceiling or flexing their knee on the affected side as no muscle weakness occurs. Symptoms may worsen with sitting, standing, or walking for long periods of time.

Treatment Options:

  • Do nothing: Meralgia paresthetica is a benign condition that may resolve within weeks or months.

  • Lifestyle changes: Be mindful of how constrictive your belts or pants may be and make changes to your wardrobe as necessary. If you have been told that you are overweight or obese, team up with your primary doctor to create a healthy and sustainable plan for weight loss. If you have diabetes, see your doctor regularly to make sure your blood sugar is well-controlled. For women who are pregnant, you will likely feel much better once baby has arrived!

  • Over-the-counter pain relief: Medications like Advil, Motrin, or Tylenol may alleviate the pain.
  • Nerve blocks/Ablation: Anesthetic and steroid injections around the nerve can provide relief for weeks to months. The nerve can be ablated (burned) for longer term relief if needed.
  • Medications: Some antidepressant medications (eg. amitriptyline, nortryptyline, duloxetine), or antiseizure medications (eg. gabapentin, pregabalin) can be helpful to dull the pain.
  • Surgery: For patients who have severe symptoms, neurectomy (cutting or decompressing the nerve) may be considered.

Need a referral? Dr. Martin Taylor at OrthoNeuro specializes in treating nerve pain. Click the button below or call to schedule an appointment at 614-890-6555.

Dr Taylor Dr. Taylor is a Board Certified Neurologist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of head/neck and neuropathic pain, movement disorders, EMG, EEG, and botulinum toxin therapy. Dr. Taylor earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of North Texas. He attended medical school at Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. He earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Science from the University of North Texas Health Science Center pursuing research in neuroscience. He received a D.O./Ph.D. Fellowship from the University of North Texas Health Science Center and two separate American Osteopathic Association Burroughs Wellcome Fellowships.

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