Meralgia paresthetica


Meralgia paresthetica is a condition caused by compression or pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Meralgia paresthetica produces discomfort and aching, burning, numbness, or stabbing sensations in the thigh area. This condition is also known as lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment.

Meralgia means “thigh pain,” while paresthetica means “burning pain, tingling, or itching.” Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve supplies sensation to the skin in the thigh. Pressure on this nerve can causes discomfort.

Meralgia paresthetica can occur due to factors like local trauma or certain illnesses such as diabetes, but it is frequently attributed to tight clothing, obesity or weight gain, and pregnancy. To address this condition, treatment options may involve pain relievers or, in rare instances, surgical intervention. Nonetheless, using conservative measures like wearing looser clothing can be beneficial in alleviating meralgia paresthetica.


Meralgia paresthetica symptoms commonly appear on one side of the body, usually near the front of the upper thigh. The symptoms may include:

  • Thigh pain, aching, tingling, or numbness
  • Burning sensation
  • Reduced sense of feeling
  • Increased pain sensitivity, such as gently touching the thigh may cause pain
  • Pain becomes worse after long durations of walking or standing

If any of the signs and symptoms persist, visit a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.


The compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) causes meralgia paresthetica. The LFCN is a large sensory nerve in the body. It provides feeling to the outer thigh’s surface. It runs from the spinal cord through the pelvic area and down the outside of the thigh. The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve only impacts sensation and has no effect on leg muscle function.

Normally, individuals do not encounter any issues as the nerve travels from the groin to the upper thigh. In meralgia paresthetica, the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve becomes trapped, commonly behind the inguinal ligament.

Compression of the LFCN can be caused by several factors, both external and internal, such as:

  • Tight attire, such as belts, corsets, and skinny jeans
  • Wearing a large tool belt
  • Obesity or gaining weight
  • Pregnancy
  • Hip injuries or surgery
  • Abdominal fluid collection, resulting in increased abdominal pressure
  • Nerve injury caused by diabetes, trauma following surgery
  • Seat belt injury in a car accident
  • A tumor close to the LFCN

Risk factors

Anyone can develop meralgia paresthetica. However, several factors may contribute to increasing one’s risk of this condition, such as:

  • Age: This condition tends to develop among people who are between 30 to 60 years of age.
  • Obesity: Too much weight gain can put additional strain on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve which can lead to meralgia paresthetica.
  • Pregnancy: An increased pressure on the groin area where the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve traverses is common as the pregnancy progresses.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes are more likely to develop this condition.