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Meralgia Paresthetica Clinical Presentation

  • Author: Elizabeth A Sekul, MD; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE  more...
Updated: May 05, 2016


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  • When the LFCN is entrapped, paresthesias and numbness of the upper lateral thigh area are the presenting symptoms. The paresthesias may be quite painful.
  • Symptoms are typically unilateral. However, they may be bilateral in up to 20% of cases.
  • Walking or standing may aggravate the symptoms; sitting tends to relieve them.


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  • Examination reveals numbness of the anterolateral thigh in all or part of the area involved with the paresthesias.
  • Occasionally, patients are hyperesthetic in this area.
  • Tapping over the upper and lateral aspects of the inguinal ligament or extending the thigh posteriorly, which stretches the nerve, may reproduce or worsen the paresthesias.
  • Deep palpation just below the anterior superior iliac spine (pelvic compression testing) reproduces the symptoms. A study in 45 patients found that the pelvic compression test had a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 93.3% for meralgia paresthetica.[4]
  • Motor strength in the involved leg should be normal.


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  • Pregnancy, tight clothing, and obesity predispose to compression of the nerve at the inguinal ligament.[5, 6, 7, 3] Tool belts worn by carpenters, duty belts worn by policemen, and body armor worn by soldiers may compress the LFCN.[8]
  • Lying in the fetal position for prolonged periods also has been implicated, as has prone positioning after lumbar spinal surgery.[9]
  • Meralgia paresthetica is more common in diabetics than in the general population.[3]
  • Although rare, impingement of the LFCN by masses (eg, neoplasms, contained iliopsoas hemorrhages) in the retroperitoneal space before it reaches the inguinal ligament can cause the same symptoms.
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Elizabeth A Sekul, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

Elizabeth A Sekul, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, Child Neurology Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Neil A Busis, MD Chief of Neurology and Director of Neurodagnostic Laboratory, UPMC Shadyside; Clinical Professor of Neurology and Director of Community Neurology, Department of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh Physicians

Neil A Busis, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE Founding Editor-in-Chief, eMedicine Neurology; Founder and CEO/CMO, PHLT Consultants; Chief Medical Officer, MeMD Inc

Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association for Physician Leadership, American Academy of Neurology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Aashit K Shah, MD, FAAN, FANA Professor and Associate Chair of Neurology, Director, Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Program Director, Clinical Neurophysiology Fellowship, Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University School of Medicine

Aashit K Shah, MD, FAAN, FANA is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Neurology, American Neurological Association, American Clinical Neurophysiology Society, American Epilepsy Society

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from UCB pharma for speaking and teaching; Received grant/research funds from UCB Pharma for other; Received consulting fee from Sunovion for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Lundbeck for speaking and teaching.

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Anatomy of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.
Sensory distribution of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.
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