In most cases, your doctor can make a diagnosis of meralgia paresthetica based on your medical history and a physical examination. He or she may touch the affected leg, ask you to describe the pain, and ask you to trace out the specific location of the numb or painful area on your leg.
To rule out other conditions, your doctor may recommend:
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- X-ray imaging. This diagnostic tool uses electromagnetic radiation to make images of your hip and pelvic area.
- Electromyography. This test measures the electrical discharges produced in muscles to help evaluate and diagnose muscle and nerve disorders. During the test, a thin needle electrode is placed into the muscle to record electrical activity. Results of this test are normal in meralgia paresthetica, but the test may be needed to exclude other disorders when the diagnosis isn't clear.
- Nerve conduction study. In this test, patch-style electrodes are placed on your skin to stimulate the nerve with a mild electrical impulse. The electrical impulse helps diagnose damaged nerves.
- Nerve blockade. Pain relief achieved from anesthetic injection into your thigh where the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve enters into it can confirm that you have meralgia paresthetica. Ultrasound imaging may be used to guide the needle.
- Anderson BC. Meralgia paresthetica (lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 19, 2013.
- Burning thigh pain (meralgia paresthetica). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00340. Accessed Nov. 19, 2013.
- NINDS meralgia paresthetica information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/meralgia_paresthetica/meralgia_paresthetica.htm. Accessed Nov. 19, 2013.
- Patjin J, et al. Meralgia paresthetica. Pain Practice. 2011;11:1533.
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