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Meralgia Paresthetica: Nerve Damage| Causes and Treatment

Meralgia Paresthetica is a medical condition that causes a burning sensation in the outer thigh. This is a  result of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) having too much pressure being applied on it or there is damage to it. 

This can occur due to several reasons such as too much pressure, and laceration in the region that impacts the nerve and results in pain, discomfort, and numbness in the region. This is a quick guide to understanding what the condition is, its causes, symptoms, and various treatments available that suit your needs.

Meralgia Paresthetica Causes

Meralgia Paresthetica, or MR, can be caused due to several reasons. One of them is the most common, where one wears tight clothing that prevents free blood blow in the region. This can cause severe numbness in the area and result in pain and discomfort.

Wearing a heavy tool belt, can also cause pressure on the region, and on the groin area and result in numbness and pain. This occurs in people who need to carry tool sets and wear tight belts. The increased pressure reduces the sensitivity of the nerve and can even cause muscle weakness.

Obesity and weight gain can also result in the numbing of the leg region and cause pain and discomfort and hurt the nerve. This can be due to the pressure of bearing the weight during movements while being seated and engaging in other activities that apply pressure to the region.

Other causes can be pregnancy, scar tissue in the region, and fluid accumulation as well.

Meralgia Paresthetica Symptoms

As mentioned above, some of the most common symptoms are numbness and pain in the region of the thighs. Some of the other symptoms can be difficulty in standing up for long times, and “sleepy” legs more often than usual.

When the nerves are compressed, the legs may feel less sensitive to senses and contact and rescue the ability to feel in the region. You can experience pain in the groin region that extends all the way to the buttocks in some cases.

Other symptoms can also include over-sensitive regions of the thigh, where even slight contact can increase reaction and cause pain.

Meralgia Paresthetica Diagnosis

The doctor can begin with a simple set of questions related to clothing and food habits and physical activities. They can also check your medical and surgical history to understand more about the condition. Light touch and reflex tests can also be conducted to gauge the intensity of the injury and rule out other possibilities.

Blood tests for anemia, vitamin D, and thyroid profile can also be used to understand the cause as well. X-rays and Imaging such as MRI and CT can help locate any injury to the nerve, muscles, or soft tissue that can further ascertain the cause of the pain and provide a treatment possibility based on the results.

Who is Likely to have Meralgia Paresthetica

Diabetic people are more likely to have the illness as it alters the body's ability to engage in physical activities. It can also result in obesity which can increase pressure on the nerves.

People who engage in rough physical activities can also have pressure on the nerve due to the impact caused or the high-pressure engagement of the legs and the hips. This can result in increased pressure on the nerves and cause pain in the region.

Pregnant people, anyone recovering from an injury in the hip and leg region are also more prone to the ailment. Anyone who wears tight clothing can also be at risk for the same.

Risk of Meralgia Paresthetica

Risk factors of Meralgia Paresthetica include pregnant women, obesity, and any kind of lifestyle that includes increased weight on the legs and thighs. This can be painful as there is increased pressure on the outer thighs while engaging it in activities such as walking and sitting, and can cause damage to the nerve, resulting in numbness or pain in the region.

It is important to ensure that the body weight is healthy enough for the legs to be able to carry them or engage in a lifestyle that strengthens the muscles.

Complications of Meralgia Paresthetica

If it is left untreated, it can increase numbness and pain in the thighs and impact the ability to walk, sit for long periods of time or engage in any physical activities such as running and jogging. It can also impact one's ability to work for a long time at a seat, cook meals, and other forms of daily activities. If there is a rupture of the nerves, it can cause clots and injury to the muscle and can result in serious discomfort.

Prevention of Meralgia Paresthetica

While there is no assurance that one may not have Meralgia Paresthetica ever, we can also ensure that the frequency of it happening is reduced. The goal is to ensure that the nerve is not under pressure, and hence any precautions that can achieve this can be taken.

One best start is to ensure that the clothing worn is comfortable and breathable and allows blood circulation. It is important to allow some breathing space for the body in such cases. Other preventive measures are having a body weight that is comfortable for you and doesn't cause too much discomfort. 

It is also important to strengthen the muscles and maintain a good posture while engaging in physical activities.

Meralgia Paresthetica Treatment

Conventional treatments include medication for reducing inflammation and pain relief medication. Some of the other forms of treatment are wearing loose clothing, reducing using belts, and other forms of restrictions on the body. 

It is also important to gain a healthy amount of weight that does not result in fatigue. This can include physical activities like meralgia paresthetica exercises, special meralgia paresthetica sleeping position, and dietary changes to accommodate the same.

In rare cases, surgery may be needed to relieve the pressure on the nerves.

Physiotherapy for Meralgia Paresthetica

Meralgia Paresthetica physical therapy can go a long way in helping reduce the stress and pressure on the nerves. Meralgia Paresthetica physiotherapy, specialized exercises, and stretches can help increase blood flow and reduce the pain in the region. Phonophoresis ultrasound waves help the body absorb topically applied pain medications. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) provides symptom relief by using an electric current to stimulate the nerve.

Stretching exercises of the legs, hamstring, and knees can help increase mobility, strengthen the legs and thigh region and provide comfort and relief from the pain.

Ice and heat therapy can also help reduce inflammation and increase blood flow in the region. Body exercises such as full stretch can help increase stability and improve the leg's ability to bear the weight, resulting in the strength of the muscles.

To Keep in Mind

  • meralgia paraesthetica occurs when there is acute pressure on the nerve that provides sense to the outer thighs
  • It can occur due to high pressure or impact on the nerve
  • Causes pain, numbness, loss of sensation or hypersensitivity in some cases in the thigh
  • Can be a result of tight clothes, overweight or high-impact activities
  • Can be treated with medication, rest, and physiotherapy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best treatment for meralgia paresthetica?

Treatment for meralgia paresthetica includes weight management, anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications, physiotherapy, TENs therapy, and ice and heat therapy. Further, following a few conservative measures such as wearing loose clothing, avoiding belts, maintaining a specific sleeping position, and weight management can improve the condition. 

What is the best exercise for meralgia paresthetica?

Lunges are considered the best exercise for meralgia paresthetica. It is a multi-joint exercise that helps tone and strengthens the muscles of the lower body. This exercise stretches the major muscles of the leg (quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles). 

Is physiotherapy good for meralgia paresthetica?

Physical therapy can go a long way in improving meralgia paresthetica. A few physiotherapy techniques to treat this condition include- specialized exercises, stretches, TENs therapy, and ice and heat therapy.

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