Home Brain and nervesPeripheral nervous system diseases Meralgia paresthetica: causes, symptoms, treatment and exercises

Meralgia paresthetica: causes, symptoms, treatment and exercises

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Meralgia paresthetica is a condition that causes tingling, burning, and numbness in the outer left thigh due to compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Among its most frequent causes, we find excess weight, pregnancy and the use of very tight clothing. In many cases, symptoms are alleviated by taking a few simple steps throughout the day. Only in cases of greater severity or very severe pain, specific medications are prescribed.

In the following FastlyHealarticle, we explain in detail what are the causes, symptoms and treatment of meralgia paresthetica , as well as the exercises recommended to improve mobility of the affected leg.

What is meralgia paresthetica

Meralgia paresthetica is a condition that occurs due to compression or entrapment of the femoral cutaneous nerve , which provides sensitivity to the anterior and outer region of both thighs.

The femoroccutaneous nerve is located in the pelvis and from there it goes to the front of the leg, the sensitivity it provides is at the level of the front of the thigh and the lower part.

This alteration only affects the sensitive part of the lower limb without altering the bone or muscular part of the lower limb. This nerve arises from the nerve roots at the level of the lumbar spine, specifically L1-L2.

Causes of meralgia paresthetica

As we have already explained, this disease is caused by compression or pinching of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve , which confers sensitivity to the surface of the outer part of the thigh. This is because it is a solely sensitive nerve that does not affect the leg muscles.

The aforementioned nerve crosses the groin region and goes to the upper part of the thigh without inconvenience. In cases where it is trapped, this usually happens below the inguinal ligament, which crosses the groin from the abdomen to the upper thigh.

The most common causes of meralgia paresthetica are:

  • Weight gain, obesity.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Use of tight-fitting clothing such as pants, belts, corsets.
  • Presence of scars, previous surgical procedures or injury to the groin area.
  • Seat belt injuries in a traffic accident.

Other injuries can cause alteration of the femoroccutaneous nerve such as:

  • Direct injury to the nerve resulting from trauma.
  • Bone fracture at the level of the pelvis.
  • Bleeding in the abdominal or pelvic area.
  • Presence of catheter in the pelvic or abdominal area.
  • Diseases such as diabetes , which can affect the nerves and give rise to this alteration.

Symptoms of meralgia paresthetica

The mentioned causes are capable of triggering some characteristic symptoms:

  • Tingling in the outer and lateral part of the thigh.
  • Burning in the superficial and external part of the thigh.
  • Weakness at the knee or leg level that makes it impossible to go up or especially down the stairs.
  • Feeling that the knee is unstable, comes out or there is loss of strength.

The characteristic of these symptoms is that they appear only on one side of the body, in this case, on the left leg . Symptoms can be aggravated by keeping the leg in one position or by walking.

Diagnosis of meralgia paresthetica

To reach the diagnosis of this alteration, a medical consultation with specialized professionals is required, in addition to specialized studies that determine the type of injury at the nerve level:

  • Electromyography.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging to locate the presence of tumors or masses.
  • Nerve conduction tests: Through this test, the nerves that are damaged are known. This test helps rule out other pathologies.
  • X-rays of the hip and pelvis.

Meralgia paresthetica: medical treatment

The doctor will be in charge, with a prior evaluation, of implementing the necessary measures to treat meralgia paresthetica and relieve compression of the damaged nerve. These measures include:

  • Wear light clothing (not tight to the body).
  • In cases where the patient is overweight or obese, adopt a diet that allows you to eliminate excess weight.

It is also important to consume medications that help control other symptoms that accompany this alteration:

  • Corticosteroid injections: these help reduce inflammation, in addition to controlling pain in cases where it is present.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: their effect helps relieve pain.
  • Medications such as Neurontin, Lyrica and Dilantin are among the most used: they can help reduce the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica, like tricyclic antidepressants, they produce side effects such as nausea, dizziness, constipation, drowsiness and, sometimes, lightheadedness .

Exercises for meralgia paresthetica

There is a group of exercises that are put into practice in cases of meralgia paresthetica to decrease muscle tension , in addition to improving strength and flexibility in the affected leg. With this, the pain produced by this alteration is controlled. Among these exercises we can mention:


With the performance of this exercise, mobility of the pelvis is achieved in addition to stimulating the movement of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve through the pelvic area.

This exercise consists of standing on all fours with your hands located under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. In this way, the back is arched, allowing the belly to bend and the chest to rise. This position should be held for 15 to 30 seconds, then it is returned to the starting position and it should be repeated 3 to 5 times.

Quadriceps stretch

This exercise consists of standing in front of a wall placing your hands on it. One leg is bent at the knee and in this way is brought towards the buttocks region; With the free hand, the foot should be guided towards the body until the stretch begins to be felt in the front of the thigh.

It is important to hold this position for 30 seconds, repeat 3 times on each side.


With the help of this exercise, the strength in the legs is strengthened in addition to improving stability and balance, and relieving pain.

This practice consists of standing with your hands at your sides. With a step forward, slowly bend your knees and lower your body until the knee behind your back touches the ground.

Then, it is returned to the starting position and repeated on the other side. There should be between 10 and 15 repetitions on each side.


With this exercise, the hip flexor muscles are stretched, in this way, the muscles of the base, buttocks and legs are strengthened, reducing pain, in addition to improving their function.

This practice is done lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Next, the hips are lifted off the ground and the buttocks are contracted, in the upper part this position should be maintained for 15 to 30 seconds. It is returned to the starting position and is repeated again between about 10 and 15 repetitions of 2 to 3 series.

Performing these exercises contributes to the relief of symptoms and even to improve the pain that in some cases causes the inability to walk. The solution to this problem is to decompress the nerve, in this way, the elimination of the symptoms will be obtained. Do not hesitate to go to your trusted doctor, he will guide you on what treatment to start to correct this alteration.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Meralgia paresthetica: causes, symptoms, treatment and exercises , we recommend that you enter our Brain and nerves category .

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