It’s not unusual to feel numbness in your groin or another body part after sitting for long periods of time. But if your groin numbness is accompanied by pain, other symptoms, or lasts a while, it’s time to see your doctor.
Several things can cause groin numbness. Read on to learn the common causes and treatment options.
A hernia occurs when tissues, such as part of the intestine, pushes out through a weak spot in your muscles, creating a painful bulge. There are different types of hernias that can occur in different areas. The types that can cause groin numbness are:
Inguinal hernias are most common. They occur in the inguinal canal. It runs along either side of your pubic bone. You may notice a bulge in the area that gets bigger or hurts more when you cough or strain.
This type of hernia may also cause a heavy sensation or pressure in your groin.
A femoral hernia is less common. This type occurs on the inner thigh or groin. It can also cause numbness in the groin and inner thighs.
Herniated disc or something else compressing a nerve
A compressed nerve occurs when pressure is placed on a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as a bones or tendons. A pinched nerve can happen anywhere in the body. It most often occurs in the spine because of a herniated disc.
A pinched nerve can also result from narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis). It can occur from conditions such as spondylosis and spondylolisthesis. Some people are born with a narrow spinal canal, too.
Where you feel the symptoms of a compressed nerve depends on the area affected. A pinched nerve in the lower back, thigh, or knee can cause pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the area of the groin and thighs.
Pain from a compressed nerve radiates along the nerve’s root. This means a herniated disc in your lower back may cause symptoms that you can feel through your groin and down to your feet.
Sciatica is another possible symptom of nerve compression. Sciatic pain refers to pain along the sciatic nerve. It runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down the legs. Sciatica and related symptoms usually only affect one side of the body, but can affect both sides.
A pinched sciatic nerve can cause:
- buttock and leg pain
- buttock and leg numbness
- leg weakness
- pain that worsens when coughing or sitting
Cauda equina syndrome
Cauda equina syndrome is a serious but rare disorder that affects the cauda equina. This is a bundle of nerve roots at the lower portion of the spinal cord. It’s a medical emergency that requires urgent surgery.
These nerves send and receive signals to and from the brain to the pelvis and lower limbs. When these nerves are compressed, they can cause:
- numbness in the inner thighs, groin, and buttocks
- loss of bladder or bowel control
Call 911 or your local emergency services if you experience these symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or other conditions where the body attacks the nerves
Medical conditions that damage the nerves (neuropathy) can cause numbness in different parts of the body, including the groin.
Symptoms may include:
- paresthesia, which may feel like pins and needles, tingling, or a skin-crawling sensation
- sexual dysfunction
- bladder dysfunction, such as an inability to hold your urine (incontinence) or start a urine flow (retention)
Meralgia paresthetica is a condition that causes numbness, burning pain, and tingling in the outer thigh. The symptoms can radiate to the groin. They may be worse when standing or sitting.
This condition develops when pressure is placed on the nerve that supplies sensation to the skin on your outer thigh. Common causes include:
- weight gain
- wearing tight clothing
Spinal cord infection
A spinal cord infection develops when a bacterial or fungal infection spreads to the spinal canal from another part of the body. The first symptom is usually severe back pain.
Pain radiates from the infected area and can cause weakness and numbness in the hips and groin. Left untreated, a spinal cord infection can cause paralysis.
If you suspect you have a spinal cord infection, see your doctor immediately. Spinal infections can be fatal.
Groin strains are the most common type of groin injury. They occur when the adductor muscles in the inner thighs are injured or torn. Groin strains usually occur during sports, but can result from any sudden or awkward movement of the legs.
The most common symptom of a groin injury is pain in the groin area and inner thighs that worsens with movement, especially when bringing the legs together. Some people experience numbness or weakness in the inner thighs and legs.
Your symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of your injury.
Poor posture increases your risk of spinal problems. This can affect your nerves and cause pain and numbness in your groin and other parts of your body.
Sitting hunched over or leaning forward for long periods, such as when working at your desk, can put extra pressure on the muscles and nerves in your groin. It can lead to a pins-and-needles feeling or the sensation that your saddle region is “asleep.”
The extra weight placed on your spinal column when you’re overweight or obese can significantly increase your risk of herniated discs and spondylosis. Both conditions can compress nerves and cause pain and numbness in the lower body. The extra weight causes excess wear on your vertebrae and other spinal tissues.
Riding a bike for a long period
People who ride bicycles for long periods, such as couriers and sports cyclists, have an increased risk of groin numbness. Pressure placed on the groin from a traditional bike saddle can cause it. Changing to a no-nose saddle is recommended.
Anxiety and panic attacks can cause a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including numbness and tingling. Other symptoms you may experience include:
- nervousness or restlessness
- feeling worried
- heart palpitations
- feeling of impending doom
- extreme fatigue
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
Even if you suspect your symptoms may be due to anxiety, have a doctor evaluate your chest pain to rule out a heart attack.
Groin numbness can cause feelings similar to having your foot or leg fall asleep. These can include:
- pins and needles
Groin numbness that’s accompanied by other symptoms is unlikely to be the result from just sitting too long. Here’s what your symptoms could mean.
Numbness in groin and inner thigh
Inguinal and femoral hernias, herniated discs, and a groin injury can cause numbness in your groin and inner thigh.
If you also experience loss of sensation in your legs or problems with bladder or bowel control, see a doctor immediately. This may be caused by cauda equina, which requires urgent surgery.
Numbness in groin and buttocks
Sitting for long periods can cause numbness in your groin and buttocks. If your symptoms don’t improve with standing up or changing positions, the cause may be sciatica.
Sciatica can also cause a burning pain that extends down your leg below the knee.
Treatment for groin numbness depends on the cause. You may be able to treat your symptoms at home. If a medical condition is causing your numbness, medical treatment may be required.
Getting up and moving around can help relieve groin numbness that’s from sitting for too long. Other things you can do that may help include:
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Take breaks while on long bike rides, or switch to a no-nose saddle. You can find one online.
- Use relaxation techniques to keep your stress and anxiety down.
- Try stretching to relieve sciatic pain. Here are six to get started.
- Apply cold and heat to your lower back for sciatica or herniated discs.
Your doctor will recommend treatment based on the underlying cause of your groin numbness. Treatment may include:
- anti-inflammatory drugs
- drugs used to manage MS or diabetes
- surgery to release a trapped nerve
See your doctor about groin numbness that doesn’t have an obvious cause, such as prolonged sitting, or that’s accompanied by other symptoms. Loss of movement or sensation in the legs, as well as bladder or bowel dysfunction, are especially concerning. You may require emergency attention.
To diagnose your groin numbness, your doctor will first ask you about your medical history and any other symptoms you have. They’ll then perform a physical exam. They may order imaging tests, such as:
- CT scan
Your doctor may also refer you to a neurologist. They can perform a neurological exam to check for weakness.
If your groin numbness improves after you get up from sitting for a long time, chances are you have nothing to worry about.
If you experience other symptoms, an underlying medical condition may be the cause. See your doctor for a diagnosis. The sooner you get a diagnosis and treatment, the sooner you’ll feel better.
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