Meralgia paresthetica (MP), also known as Bernhardt-Roth syndrome, is a neurological condition that causes pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in the outer part of your thigh. It’s usually not serious and may resolve on its own.

The condition usually results from compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. It can also be from damage to this nerve. The nerve originates in the lower spine and travels through the groin to your leg.

Wearing tight-fitting clothing, and doing things like standing, walking, or cycling for long periods of time can bring on MP. It can also be related to hip or back surgery or trauma, obesity, or pregnancy. People with diabetes are also more prone to MP.

Symptoms typically occur on one side of the body and may become worse after walking or standing.

Surgery is typically considered a last resort for treatment of MP. First-line treatment includes:

Exercises that reduce lower back muscle tension and improve flexibility and strength may help with pain due to MP. Some examples are listed below.

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Image source: Photos by Andrew Warner Photography | Model is Amy Crandall

This exercise helps with mobility throughout the spine and encourages movement of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve through the groin area.

Equipment needed: none

Muscles worked: spine stabilizers, lumbar extensors, abdominals

  1. Start on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly below your hips at 90 degrees.
  2. Begin by slowly arching your back, letting your belly sag, and lifting your chest and eyes up to look up at the ceiling.
  3. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Slowly return to starting position. Tuck your pelvis and arch your back in the other direction while you let your head drop down and relax.
  5. Hold position for 15 to 30 seconds.
  6. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

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Image source: Photos by Andrew Warner Photography | Model is Amy Crandall

Lunges work to build strength in the legs and help improve balance and stability. They can also help stretch tight hip muscles, which may lessen pain.

Equipment needed: none

Muscles worked: thigh muscles, including quadriceps and hamstrings, as well as glutes and core muscles

  1. Stand up tall with hands by your side.
  2. Take a large step forward and slowly bend your knees and lower down until your back knee touches the floor. Be sure to take a big enough step so your front knee doesn’t go past your toes.
  3. Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.
  4. Do 10 to 15 repetitions on each side and complete 3 sets.

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Image source: Photos by Andrew Warner Photography | Model is Amy Crandall

This exercise helps stretch the hip flexors and strengthens the muscles of the core, legs, and butt to improve function and reduce pain.

Equipment needed: none

Muscles worked: spinal stabilizers, lumbar extensors, abdominals, glutes, hamstrings

  1. Start by lying on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Slowly raise the hips off the ground until the body is in a straight line, pushing the heels into the floor and squeezing the glutes at the top.
  3. Hold position for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets.

Stretching and strengthening exercises for the pelvis, hip, and core, as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, may be effective in relieving pain and symptoms of MP.

Always consult a doctor before beginning an exercise program and stop an exercise if it causes more pain or discomfort. Exercise is a good treatment for some nerve problems, but too much exercise can make symptoms worse.

These exercises combined with lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding activities that cause pain and losing weight, can help prevent or alleviate the symptoms of MP.