Meralgia Paresthetica

Meralgia Paresthetica

April 3, 2014

What is Meralgia Paresthetica?

Rather than an injury to the muscle, ligaments, or tendons, meralgia paresthetica occurs when a nerve is damaged. This neurological disorder, which is also sometimes called Bernhardt-Roth syndrome, involves the lateral cutaneous nerve, which runs along the thigh from the hip to the knee. The pain and numbness associated with meralgia paresthetica is felt on the outside of the thigh, but the injury to the nerve usually occurs where the hip bones meet the thigh, when the nerve becomes trapped or compressed.

What Are The Major Symptoms?

The major symptoms of this type of injury are numbness, pain, and tingling, perceived on the outer thigh.  The pain and discomfort is steady and constant. The pain is unusual, often compared to a burning or stinging sensation, unlike the deep aches or muscle injuries. Occasionally, the pain may extend down to the knee, or up around the hip and buttocks. Nerve sensations on the thigh will in general be unusual; firm pressure may be tolerable while a light touch will feel excruciating, and extreme sensitivity to temperature, especially heat, is often reported.

What Causes Meralgia Paresthetica?

The lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh passes between the ilium (the front of the hip bone) and the inguinal ligament, where it attaches to the spine. At this point, the nerve may become compressed, or entrapped, causing this neurological disorder. Other illnesses that damage the nerves, such as diabetes, or sometimes trauma to the hips and waist, like that which is causing my a seatbelt in a car accident. Clothing that is too tight (especially the waistbands of pants and underwear, and belts) has also been known to cause meralgia paresthetica.

What Are The Treatment Options?

Treatment options revolve around reducing pain and removing the cause of the compression injury to the nerve. Anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter painkillers are often prescribed, and patients are usually counseled to avoid any activities that cause the pain to worsen; for acute pain, a period of inactivity or even bed rest may be recommended. Heat therapy to relax muscles and ice therapy to reduce pain and swelling may be recommended as they can be tolerated. If the pain is less severe, or once more severe pain begins to reduce, behavior modification is often recommended, such as making sure to take breaks during long periods of activity. Wearing looser clothing, especially around the hips and waist, is also often recommended to reduce compression and prevent re-injury.

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