Like with hip and groin pain, problems in the upper thigh, such as burning, tingling, a pinched nerve, or prickling occurs from time to time. In most cases, there is really no cause for alarm but there are some instances when the pain in your thigh or even general leg pain should not be overlooked and may require more than rest or physical therapy.
The pain, whether dull or sharp, can be due to irritation or compression of the nerves which innervates different parts of the lower extremity.
Anatomy of Nerves in the Thigh
There are many nerves in the leg that take an active part in the motor, autonomic, and sensory functions in the body. Among these nerves are the femoral nerve, the lateral cutaneous femoral nerve, the sciatic nerve, and saphenous nerve which perform unique functions from the spinal cord to the legs.
The femoral nerve supplies the skin around the inner leg and the upper thigh area, the saphenous nerve supplies the medial aspect of the lower leg—a small area on of the foot and the ankle.
The sciatic nerve also referred to as the largest nerve in the human body, courses from the lower back down the lower extremity. It connects the central nervous system to the lower limbs. Damage to this nerve can lead to sciatic nerve pain and general leg pain. The lateral cutaneous femoral nerve supplies the lateral thigh.
Risk Factors for Thigh Pain
The most common risk factors that can predispose the thigh to nerve pain include:
- Repetitive exercise
Injury or irritation to any of these nerves can cause intense pain, a burning sensation, or numbness in the thighs. Following are some of the health conditions which exhibit nerve pain in the thighs.
One of the most unrecognized causes of nerve pains in the thigh is Meralgia Parasthetica, a condition caused by irritation of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve which runs through the pelvic bone. This nerve is a sensory nerve because it is primarily involved in aiding sensations. When damaged, it can result in numbness, searing pains, and shock-like feeling.
Causes of irritation to the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve:
- Obesity – Excessive weight causes the tissues of the abdomen to trap the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve under a ligament
- Pregnancy – Pregnancy causes the abdominal tissue to compress the nerve
- Placing your cell phones in your pockets
- Thyroid conditions
- Lead poisoning
- Tight clothing
- A herniated disc
- Damage to the spine
- Damaged blood vessels
An injury causing leg pain
Meralgia Parasthetica is very common among young women who favor tight clothing.
- Burning sensation
Symptoms can get worsened when the affected individual stands for a long period of time.
Most of the time, the compression can reverse on its own without much hassle.
Lifestyle modification habits can greatly improve this disorder. The following lifestyle habits can reverse the dysfunction:
- Self-care measures like maintaining a healthy weight and wearing loose clothing
- Over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and Ibuprofen helps to ease the pain
- Deep tissue massage
- Flexibility exercises around the hips and core
In extreme cases, your physician might recommend anti-seizure medications, tricyclic antidepressants, and corticosteroid injections.
One of the most popular types of nerve pain that is common in the thighs, is femoral neuropathy, also known as femoral nerve dysfunction. This neurological dysfunction occurs when you experience difficulty in moving your legs as a result of a damaged femoral nerve.
An injured femoral nerve results in the difficulty or even inability to walk and burning sensations in the foot and leg. Femoral neuropathy can be as a result of an injury, the compression of the nerve, or disease-induced. Femoral neuropathy is believed to be a form of peripheral neuropathy while some scientists claim it is a form of diabetic amyotrophy.
Causes of femoral nerve injury:
- Pelvic fracture
- Prolonged pressure on the femoral nerve
- Radiation to the pelvis
- Catheter fixed into the femoral artery
- Bleeding into the retroperitoneal space
- Muscle weakness in the lower extremity
- Buckling feeling around the knee or leg
- Aching pain in the genital area
- Weakness in the quadriceps
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen have been proven to be very helpful in managing pain.
- Lifestyle modification habits like consumption of an adequate nutrition, practicing good postures, and exercising from time to time helps to prevent the occurrence of such nerve damage.
Compression of the sciatic nerve leads to a condition called sciatica. In extreme cases, the pain from sciatica makes walking almost impossible. This compression or irritation can be caused by:
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
- The common symptoms of this dysfunction include:
- Pain in the leg or buttocks
- Weakness in the lower limb
- Burning sensation down the leg
- Difficulty when standing up
Treatment of Sciatica
In most cases, an irritated sciatic nerve goes back to normal after a while, especially after a period of bed rest. Best rest has been very proven to alleviate acute sciatica.
Anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, and pain relievers help to reduce pain perception caused by this dysfunction. Sometimes, administering Cortisone medications by a professional also helps.
Stretching and lower back conditioning workout routines help in recovery from sciatica. Some of these exercises include Pilates and yoga.
Hot and cold topical treatments.
One of the least common causes of pain in the nerves of the thigh is known as saphenous neuropathy. It occurs as a result of complications from surgery or injuries. Sometimes, it can be caused by patellofemoral disorders, a tear of the medial meniscus or nonspecific synovitis. The probability of saphenous neuropathy arising from natural causes is very slim.
For a long time, it has been revealed that deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause a number of conditions which includes neuropathy. Many factors can cause vitamin B12 deficiency and it is important to maintain a healthy level of this micronutrient.
Individuals whose body systems cannot make up for the loss from dietary sources alone are strongly advised to combine nutrient supplements to boost their stores. One of the most effective supplements that give the body the right amount of vitamin B12 is Nerve Renew by the Neuropathy Treatment Group.
Methylcobalamin, often referred to as Methyl-B12, is the form of vitamin B12 used in the blend because it is very easily absorbed by the body. Other powerful ingredients in the formula include Benfotiamine and stabilized R-Alpha lipoic acid.