In most cases, your doctor can make a diagnosis of meralgia paresthetica based on your medical history and a physical exam. He or she might test the sensation of the affected thigh, ask you to describe the pain, and ask you to trace the numb or painful area on your thigh. Additional examination including strength testing and reflex testing might be done to help exclude other causes for the symptoms.
To rule out other conditions, your doctor might recommend:
Imaging studies. Although no specific changes are evident on X-ray if you have meralgia paresthetica, images of your hip and pelvic area might be helpful to exclude other conditions as a cause of your symptoms.
If your doctor suspects a tumor could be causing your pain, he or she might order a CT scan or MRI.
- Electromyography. This test measures the electrical discharges produced in muscles to help evaluate and diagnose muscle and nerve disorders. 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 might be needed to exclude other disorders when the diagnosis isn't clear.
- Nerve conduction study. Patch-style electrodes are placed on your skin to stimulate the nerve with a mild electrical impulse. The electrical impulse helps diagnose damaged nerves. This test might be done primarily to exclude other causes for the symptoms.
- 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 might be used to guide the needle.
Feb. 23, 2017
- Anderson BC. Meralgia paresthetica (lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment). http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 24, 2016.
- Burning thigh pain (meralgia paresthetica). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00340. Accessed Oct. 24, 2016.
- NINDS meralgia paresthetica information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/meralgia_paresthetica/meralgia_paresthetica.htm. Accessed Oct. 24, 2016.
- Patjin J, et al. Meralgia paresthetica. Pain Practice. 2011;11:1533.