Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve Syndrome

Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve syndrome (also known as meralgia paresthetica) happens when the nerve that supplies feeling to the thigh becomes pinched. This condition can be caused by nerve injury, obesity or weight gain, pregnancy, scar tissue near the nerve, or wearing tight clothing.

Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve syndrome can be successfully treated with health-affirming lifestyle changes like losing weight and wearing looser clothing. In many cases, pain can be managed with over-the-counter medication.

For more severe meralgia paresthetica symptoms, prescription pain medication and surgery can provide relief.

Overview

Symptoms

Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve syndrome symptoms include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling (the feeling of “pins and needles”)
  • Burning 
Meralgia paresthetica symptoms may get worse after walking or standing, and may occur on only one side of the body.

Diagnosis

In order to make a Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve syndrome diagnosis, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and may order tests to help rule out other conditions.

These tests may include:

  • Electromyography (EMG): An EMG test measure the electrical discharges from your muscles
  • Nerve conduction study (NCV): During a nerve conduction study, patches are placed on the skin to stimulate nerves with mild electrical impulses
  • Ultrasound-guided nerve blockade: This test uses real-time imaging to show your doctor the position of your nerves within the body
  • X-rays: Your doctor may use X-rays to make a meralgia paresthetica diagnosis

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Treatment Options

The most effective lateral femoral cutaneous nerve syndrome treatments include wearing looser clothing, losing excess weight, and taking over-the-counter pain medication.

Additional meralgia paresthetica treatments may include:

  • Prescription pain relievers, such as corticosteroid injections
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Certain types of antidepressants

For severe or long-lasting pain, your doctor may suggest surgery as another lateral femoral cutaneous nerve syndrome treatment option.

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