Meralgia Paraesthetica: Possible Causes and Treatment
Meralgia paraesthetica is derived from the Greek , literally coming from the Greek for ‘thigh pain’ with meros meaning thigh and algos meaning pain: and anyone who has experienced meralgia paraessthetica will certainly attest to the fact that it is a painful condition!
Meralgia paraesthetica can occur where the lateral femoral (cutaneous) nerve is trapped or pinched. This nerve provides the feelings of sensation to the outer thigh, so when it is trapped or pinched or there is pressure on it, meralgia paraesthetica results.
What Does Meralgia Paraesthetica Feel Like?
Meralgia is painful and many patients complain of a tingling sensation (in addition to the pain) that cannot be eased, or a feeling of numbness in the area. Patients often describe feeling that they are de-sensitised in the thigh area, because they are not able to feel anything.
Pain within this area is often hard to withstand, because it can be hard to gain relief from the pain, or the feelings of numbness or even tingling that can seem constant: day and night in many cases.
What Causes Meralgia Paraesthetica?
There is no single reason for meralgia paraesthetica to occur. Although it can happen in both males and females, there does seem to be a slight prevalence within the male population. It is also relatively rare for children to develop this condition.
In many cases (although not by any means all), the cause of meralgia paraesthetica (MP) may be linked to obesity. Some physicians estimate that in the UK some 90% of cases are linked to obesity.
Exercise can also trigger the condition: lunges in particular can end up trapping the nerve, which can lead to MP. Some doctors also report patients who have been cycling a great deal presenting with MP, although there is no determinable link between cycling and MP
Pregnancy can also act as a trigger point, as can any degenerative disease of the upper parts of the lumbar spine, but in very many cases the exact cause will never be ascertained and it has to be viewed as something that has happened, rather than being able to pinpoint the exact cause.
What Is the Treatment for MP?
Sometimes MP can be hard to treat because the exact cause of the condition has not been established. If a patient is overweight, they may be encouraged to lose weight, they may also be treated with various steroids and anaesthetising drugs, to alleviate the feeling of pain.
It is possible for patients to make a spontaneous recovery, although this is more common where the exact cause is not known, so the ‘remedy’ for the condition is also a mystery!
Physiotherapy may also be recommended to ensure that MP is treated and there are also surgical options, should the condition not respond favourably to treatment, however, the surgical options will only be considered after other treatments have been tried and seen not to work. Usually an expert Pain Consultant can accurately direct patients to the appropriate treatment according to their own circumstances and depending on the suspected cause of the condition.