Meralgia paresthetica is a condition that causes tingling, numbness and burning pain in the outer thigh. It's caused by compression of the nerve that provides feeling to the skin covering the thigh. Meralgia paresthetica also is known as lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment.

Tight clothing, obesity or weight gain, and pregnancy are common causes of meralgia paresthetica. But meralgia paresthetica also can be due to an injury or a disease such as diabetes.

Meralgia paresthetica often can be relieved with conservative measures, including wearing looser clothing. If symptoms aren't relieved by those measures, treatment may include medicines. Rarely, surgery is needed.


Meralgia paresthetica may cause these symptoms in the outer part of the thigh:

  • Tingling.
  • Burning pain.
  • Decreased feeling or numbness.
  • Increased sensitivity and pain to even a light touch.

These symptoms commonly occur on one side of your body and might intensify after walking or standing.

When to see your doctor

See your healthcare professional if you have symptoms of meralgia paresthetica.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.


Meralgia paresthetica occurs when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is pinched, also known as compression. The nerve supplies feeling to the surface of the outer thigh. The nerve only affects sensation and doesn't impact your ability to use your leg muscles.

In most people, this nerve passes through the groin to the upper thigh without trouble. But in meralgia paresthetica, the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve becomes trapped. Often the inguinal ligament pinches the nerve. This ligament runs along the groin from the stomach to the upper thigh.

Common causes of this compression include any condition that increases pressure on the groin, including:

  • Tight clothing, such as belts, corsets and tight pants.
  • Obesity or weight gain.
  • Wearing a heavy tool belt.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen causing increased abdominal pressure.
  • Scar tissue near the inguinal ligament due to injury or past surgery.

Nerve injury also can cause meralgia paresthetica. Nerve injury can be due to diabetes, trauma after surgery or seat belt injury after a motor vehicle accident.

Risk factors

The following might increase your risk of meralgia paresthetica:

  • Extra weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the pressure on your lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.
  • Pregnancy. A growing belly puts added pressure on your groin, through which the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve passes.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes-related nerve injury can lead to meralgia paresthetica.
  • Age. People between ages 30 and 60 are at a higher risk.

Jan. 26, 2024
  1. David WS. Meralgia paresthetica (lateral femoral cutaneous nerve entrapment). https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 17, 2021.
  2. Burning thigh pain (meralgia paresthetica). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00340. Accessed Dec. 17, 2021.
  3. NINDS meralgia paresthetica information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Meralgia-Paresthetica-Information-Page. Accessed Dec. 17, 2021.
  4. Gomez YC, et al. Meralgia paresthetica review: Update on presentation, pathophysiology and treatment. Health Psychology Research. 2023; doi:10.52965/001c.71454.
  5. Ferri FF. Meralgia paresthetica. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2024. Elsevier; 2024. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 11, 2023.
  6. Gabapentin oral. Facts & Comparisons eAnswers. https://fco.factsandcomparisons.com. Accessed Dec. 11, 2023.
  7. Tricyclic antidepressants. Facts & Comparisons eAnswers. https://fco.factsandcomparisons.com. Accessed Dec. 11, 2023.
  8. Graff-Radford J (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Dec. 11, 2023.