Meralgia paresthetica is a disorder characterized by tingling, numbness, and burning pain in the outer side of the thigh. The disorder is caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, a sensory nerve to the skin, as it exits the pelvis. People with the disorder often notice a patch of skin that is sensitive to touch and sometimes painful. Meralgia paresthetica should not be associated with weakness or radiating pain from the back.
Treatment for meralgia paresthetica is symptomatic and supportive. The majority of cases improve with conservative treatment by wearing looser clothing and losing weight. Medications used to treat neurogenic pain, such as anti-seizure or anti-depressant medications, may alleviate symptoms of pain. In a few cases, in which pain is persistent or severe, surgical intervention may be indicated.
Meralgia paresthetica usually has a good prognosis. In most cases, meralgia paresthetica will improve with conservative treatment or may even spontaneously resolve. Surgical intervention is not always fully successful.
Within the NINDS research programs, meralgia paresthetica is addressed primarily through studies associated with pain research. NINDS vigorously pursues a research program seeking new treatments for pain and nerve damage with the ultimate goal of reversing these debilitating conditions.
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.
All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.
Last Modified March 16, 2009