Thumbnail image of: Thigh Nerve Problems (Meralgia Paresthetica): Illustration

Thigh Nerve Problem

What is a thigh nerve problem?

A thigh nerve problem is numbness or pain in your outer thigh.

What is the cause?

The nerve in your upper outer thigh starts in your low back and passes over the front of your hip bone before it goes into your thigh. This nerve can get trapped or be damaged by pressure from:

  • Injury to the hip, back, or leg, such as falling on your hip, or a low back injury that causes a disk to push on the nerve
  • Being overweight
  • Wearing tight clothing

People who have diseases that affect the nerves, such as diabetes, may be at higher risk for getting a thigh nerve problem.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can include burning, tingling, numbness, or pain in the upper, outer thigh. Your skin may be very sensitive if anything touches it. The symptoms may last for weeks to months.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. Tests may include:

  • X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to show detailed pictures of the leg
  • MRI, which uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to show detailed pictures of the muscles and nerves
  • Nerve conduction studies, which use small wires that are taped to your skin to send mild electric signals and check how well your nerves work to carry signals to your muscles

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of your symptoms.

  • To treat pain, your provider may give you a shot of a steroid medicine or tell you to take nonprescription pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, you should not take these medicines for more than 10 days.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age.
    • Acetaminophen may cause liver damage or other problems. Unless recommended by your provider, don’t take more than 3000 milligrams (mg) in 24 hours. To make sure you don’t take too much, check other medicines you take to see if they also contain acetaminophen. Ask your provider if you need to avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medicine.
  • You may need surgery to release a trapped nerve.
  • If the problem is due to a health problem such as diabetes, or a disk problem in your back, treating the problem may also help with thigh nerve problems.

How can I take care of myself?

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. In addition:

  • Wear looser clothing and belts.
  • Keep a healthy weight. Lose weight if you are overweight.

Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-08
Last reviewed: 2014-12-08
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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