Meralgia paresthetica or Meralgia paraesthetica is numbness or pain in the outer thigh not caused by injury to the thigh, but by injury to a nerve that extends from the thigh to the spinal column. This chronic neurological disorder involves a single nerve—the lateral cutaneous nerve of thigh, which is also called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (and hence the syndrome lateral femoral cutaneous neuropathy).
The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve most often becomes injured by entrapment or compression where it passes between the upper front hip bone (ilium) and the inguinal ligament near the attachment at the anterior superior iliac spine (the upper point of the hip bone). Less commonly, the nerve may be entrapped by other anatomical or abnormal structures, or damaged by diabetic or other neuropathy or trauma such as from seat belt injury in an accident.
Diagnosis is largely based on patient description and relevant details about recent surgeries, hip injuries, or repetitive activities that could irritate the nerve. Examination checks for sensory differences between the affected leg and the other leg. Accurate diagnosis may require an abdominal and pelvic examination to exclude problems in those areas. Electromyographic (EMG) nerve-conduction studies may be required. X-rays may be needed to exclude bone abnormalities that might put pressure on the nerve; likewise CT.
The lingual nerve was injured in 54% and the inferior alveolar nerve in 41% of the claims. In 91% of the cases the injury occurred in relation to surgical removal of the tooth and in 6% in relation to simple extraction. The claims were distributed among 123 dentists, of whom 78% were dental surgeons, 15% specialists in oral and maxillofacial surgery, and 7% other specialists.