Meralgia Paresthetica


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Meralgia paresthetica is a relatively common compression mononeuropathy (meaning a single nerve is compressed) that can cause pelvic, lateral buttock as well as thigh discomfort.  It is usually caused by compression of a nerve known as the lateral femoral nerve which supplies sensation to the lateral buttock, anterior and lateral thigh.  Symptoms typically consist of numbness, pain or shooting/stabbing/burning sensations in the areas noted above, typically exacerbated by certain movements such as bending at the waist, sitting or wearing heavy/tight belts.  There are several risk factors for meralgia paresthetica.  These risk factors include a history of trauma to the area near the hip bones, prior surgery in the area of the hip bones, obesity, diabetes and use of heavy tight belts such as are often worn by firefighters and/or police officers.

When conservative measures fail in addressing the problem, evaluation of nerve compression should be considered.  This evaluation involves a thorough history and physical examination followed by a focal nerve block to see if the pain can be temporarily eliminated.  If successful, an outpatient procedure can be performed to decompress this nerve, much like the median nerve is decompressed in a carpal tunnel operation, but at the pelvis.  As with any nerve compression issue, timely decompression is important to hopefully prevent permanent damage to the nerve and to optimize the ultimate nerve recovery potential.  The incision from this procedure can be hidden in the groin crease and is often hidden from sight even just in underwear.  Several clinical studies have shown that surgical decompression of the lateral femoral nerve is safe and can be very effective in relieving many of the symptoms of meralgia paresthetica, sometimes permanently.  Dr. Peled has performed a number of such procedures and has even presented his results with these operations at scientific meetings.


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