Meralgia paresthetica is a condition that can cause tingling, numbness or sometimes burning pain in the outer part of the thigh. It occurs because of compression of the Lateral Cutaneous Nerve of the Thigh, that supplies sensation to the skin surface of the thigh, in area roughly covered by the palm and fingers when putting the straight arm against the side of the thigh while standing. This nerve carries only sensation from the skin, not power to the muscles.
This condition can occur because of change in weight, obesity or pregnancy, or occasionally because of holding the thigh in abnormal postures, pressure from tight clothing or trauma. The symptoms normally occur only on one side of your body and may worsen after walking or standing.
The commonest place for the nerve to be trapped is just below the lump of bone at the upper front of your pelvis called the anterior superior iliac spine, under the inguinal ligament that runs down the groin; or a little further down and out where the nerve pierces a layer of tissue called the fascia lata.
What can help it?
Conservative measures such as weight loss and simple painkillers often help, and the condition frequently settles after a while. Occasionally local anaesthetic and steroid injections to the point where the nerve is trapped can help, and some people find TENS helpful although this should not be used over an area of numbness if this is present.
Meralgia paraesthetica is discussed in some detail (on a page which, though designed for medical professionals, is quite comprehensible) on the www.patient.co.uk site.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
Pain Service Website, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Webmaster Dr J G de Courcy, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia
Page updated 15/02/2016