Burning and Tingling in the Leg? It might be Meralgia Paresthetica
(Burning Thigh Syndrome)
Originally written by Jessica M. Fike, OMS-IV. Rewritten and updated by OrthoNeuro on May 31, 2022.
Burning thigh syndrome (also known as meralgia paresthetica) is a condition that results when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (the nerve that provides feeling from the skin over the front and outer thigh) gets caught under the ligament that runs along the area of the groin from the hip bone to the pubic bone.
This condition usually causes a burning sensation in the thigh. Those who have burning thigh syndrome can also experience numbness and tingling along the front and outer part of the thigh.
This is a condition commonly seen in pregnant women, obese people, and people who wear tight belts and clothing.
If you are experiencing burning thigh pain and suspect that you might have burning thigh syndrome, schedule a consultation with our neurology experts at OrthoNeuro. Our doctors offer accurate diagnoses and personalized treatment plans.
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The nerves in your body deliver information from your surrounding environment to your brain. These messages then travel from the brain to activate your muscles to respond.
For this to happen, the nerves in your body must pass under, over, and around your muscles, bones, and joints.
When there is not enough room to permit easy passage for these nerves due to swelling, pressure, or trauma, dysfunction may result. This is what happens in the case of burning thigh syndrome.
Pressure on the femoral cutaneous nerve in the thigh causes nerve pain, tingling, and numb sensations in the thigh.
What Causes Burning Thigh Syndrome?
Meralgia paresthetica (burning thigh syndrome) can be caused when there is a disruption, compression, or injury to the sensory nerve in the thigh.
Some of the conditions that can cause meralgia paresthetica include:
- Obesity or weight gain
- Wearing tight clothing
- Injuries to the thigh
- A pinched nerve in the lower spine (sciatica)
- Spinal stenosis
- Quadriceps tendonitis
- Iliotibial band friction syndrome
- Hernia repair
- Injuries to the pelvic region
The conditions listed above all affect how the nerve in the thigh receives signals from the brain and spinal cord. This, in turn, disrupts proper sensory function.
What Are the Symptoms of Meralgia Paresthetica?
The signs and symptoms of meralgia paresthetica are:
- A painful and burning sensation on the outer side of the thigh
- Thigh numbness
- A tingling sensation in the thigh
- Sensitivity to light touch on the thigh
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule a visit with your healthcare provider. Numbness in the thigh can signal an underlying condition that may require prompt medical treatment.
How Is Burning Thigh Syndrome Diagnosed?
To correctly diagnose burning thigh syndrome your healthcare provider may ask about any injuries or trauma to the hip or repetitive motions that you are engaging in that may be irritating the nerve.
Your healthcare provider will also check for sensory differences between the affected side of the body and the other side of the body.
Your doctor may also put some pressure on the nerve to recreate the sensation in the thigh.
Your doctor may also take imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scan to make a correct diagnosis.
What Are the Treatment Options for Burning Thigh Syndrome?
Treatments for burning thigh syndrome vary depending on the source of the pressure on the nerve.
When treating burning pain in the thigh, the goal is to remove the source of compression.
Some of the methods used to treat burning thigh syndrome include:
- Rest from the activity that is aggravating the nerve
- Losing weight if obese or overweight
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Anesthetic and steroid injections
- Physical therapy
For severe cases of meralgia paresthetica, a healthcare provider will recommend surgery to cut or decompress the nerve.
Our board-certified neurology specialists at OrthoNeuro have helped many patients recover from meralgia paresthetica by using various treatment options. We have multiple locations throughout the state of Georgia.
If you are experiencing a burning and/or tingling sensation in your thigh and would like to know if you have meralgia paresthetica make an appointment for a physical examination with an OrthoNeuro specialist today!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Meralgia Paresthetica Last?
In most cases, those with meralgia paresthetica are able to recover in 4 to 6 weeks.
Will Meralgia Paresthetica Go Away on Its Own?
In some cases, meralgia paresthetica does go away on its own in a few months with mild treatment such as wearing loose-fitting clothing and/or losing weight. Pregnant women with burning thigh syndrome typically experience relief after giving birth.
What Happens If Meralgia Paresthetica Goes Untreated?
In some severe cases, if meralgia paresthetica goes untreated, it can lead to severe pain and even paralysis. Therefore, those with persistent symptoms of burning thigh syndrome should seek medical attention promptly.
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 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.