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Meralgia Paresthetica

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is meralgia paresthetica (MP)?

MP is a condition that causes numbness, tingling, and burning pain in your thigh. MP occurs when the nerve that provides feeling to the area is pinched.

What increases my risk for MP?

  • Tight clothes
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy or a fibroid (growth) in your uterus
  • Scar tissue due to injury or surgery
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes or lupus
  • Alcohol
  • Age 30 to 40 years

What are the symptoms of MP?

You may have symptoms in one or both thighs. Your symptoms may get worse if you stand or walk for a long time. You may have any of the following:

  • Numbness and tingling in the outer part of your thigh
  • Burning, stinging, or aching in the front or outer part of your thigh
  • Lower back pain that goes down your legs
  • Skin that is extra sensitive to the touch
  • Dull, achy pain in your groin and buttocks

How is MP diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. Tell him or her when they began and if anything makes your symptoms worse or better. Your provider may diagnose MP based on your symptoms. He or she may use any of the following to find a different cause of your symptoms:

  • An x-ray, CT, or MRI may show what is putting pressure on your nerve. You may be given contrast liquid to help the area show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A nerve conduction study measures the electrical activity of your nerves.

How is MP treated?

MP may go away without treatment after a few weeks or months. If symptoms continue, you may need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to relieve pain or decrease inflammation.
  • Surgery may be needed if your symptoms are severe and other treatments do not work. The nerve may be removed or the tissue around it cut to relieve pressure.

How can I manage MP?

  • Take pressure off the nerve. Wear loose clothing. Do not wear tight pants, belts, or other tight clothes. Do not walk or stand for long periods of time. Ask your provider what a healthy weight is for you. He or she can help you create a safe weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Go to physical therapy, if directed. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You cannot feel or move your legs.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have severe leg pain.
  • Your symptoms do not improve with treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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