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Meralgia Paresthetica

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


A painful mononeuropathy of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN), meralgia paresthetica is commonly due to focal entrapment of this nerve as it passes through the inguinal ligament. Rarely, it has other etiologies such as direct trauma, stretch injury, or ischemia. It typically occurs in isolation. The clinical history and examination is usually sufficient for making the diagnosis. However, the diagnosis can be confirmed by nerve conduction studies. Treatment is usually supportive. The LFCN is responsible for the sensation of the anterolateral thigh. It is a purely sensory nerve and has no motor component.[1]



Reviewing the anatomy of the LFCN is essential for understanding the mechanism of its injury (see the images below). The LFCN originates directly from the lumbar plexus and has root innervation from L2-3. The nerve runs through the pelvis along the lateral border of the psoas muscle to the lateral part of the inguinal ligament. Here, it passes to the thigh through a tunnel formed by the lateral attachment of the inguinal ligament and the anterior superior iliac spine. The crossover into the thigh is the most common site of entrapment. The crossover typically occurs 1 cm medial to the anterior superior iliac spine; however, regional variations are common.[2]

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



United States

In the general population, an incidence of 4.3 per 10,000 person years has been reported.

In people with diabetes mellitus, an incidence of 247 per 100,000 patient years has been reported.[3]


No racial predilection is known.


No gender proclivity is known.


Lateral femoral cutaneous neuropathies are most common during middle age. However, they have been reported in all age groups.

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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