What is thigh numbness?
Numbness is defined as a loss of feeling or sensation in a portion of your body. It’s often caused by nerve compression or damage to a branch of nerves. While it’s common for your extremities to go numb or “fall asleep,” numbness in your thigh may be indication of a more serious health issue.
Numbness in your thigh can cause you to lose sensation in a portion or all of your thigh. This may also cause you to experience some muscle weakness, and may affect normal function of your entire leg. Early diagnosis can help to slow the progression of this sensation and can help doctors find the best course of treatment for your condition.
Symptoms of thigh numbness
The primary symptom of thigh numbness is the loss of sensation in your thigh. Your loss of sensation may also affect muscle function in your leg. Other than numbness, other symptoms you may experience include:
Sports injuries or an intense workout can cause you to experience pain or numbness in overused muscles. However, if your numbness persists or worsens, this may be indication of a more serious injury.
Seek immediate medical treatment if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms:
- dull aching in the affected region
- pain spreading from your thigh to your groin or rear
- difficulty walking
- difficulty sleeping
What causes numbness in the thigh?
Your body contains an intricate pathway of nerves responsible for sending signals from your brain to different areas of your body, and back again. An infection or damage to these nerves can cause you to experience numbness and pain, specifically in your thigh.
There are many medical conditions associated with numbness in the thigh.
Muscle strains from injury or exercise can cause you to experience pain in your thigh, and sometimes numbness. Muscle strains or tears are common in all parts of your body, but they often occur in your legs.
This is a mild condition that is often treated with proper stretching and rest. If your discomfort continues for more than a few days, consider limiting your physical activity until your leg heals. If your leg pain and numbness is accompanied with worsening symptoms, seek medical attention. You may have developed a more serious injury.
Meralgia paresthetica is a common cause of thigh numbness. This condition causes tingling and numbness in your outer thigh. Meralgia paresthetica occurs when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve — responsible for supplying sensation to the skin surface of your outer thigh — becomes compressed. Factors that may contribute to this condition include:
Meralgia paresthetica can often be treated with small lifestyle changes. In more serious cases, your doctor may suggest medication. Surgery is rare, but may be the primary course of treatment if you experience long-lasting symptoms that exceed a few months.
Femoral nerve dysfunction
Femoral nerve dysfunction causes you to lose sensation or movement in your legs from damage to your femoral nerve. This nerve provides sensation to the front of your thigh and a portion of your lower leg. Damage or trauma to this nerve may cause you to experience numbness in your thigh, along with your knee and leg.
Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve damage condition triggered by diabetes. High blood pressure can damage your body’s nerve fibers, often causing you to experience numbness and loss of sensations. Symptoms are usually felt in the legs and feet first, but may spread to your hands, arms and other areas of your body.
While in some cases diabetic neuropathy symptoms can be mild, this condition can be fatal. Diabetic neuropathy can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. If you are diagnosed with this condition, discuss your treatment options with your doctor to prevent progression.
Sciatica causes shooting pain beginning at your lower back and spreading down the back of one leg. It can also cause pain to spread across your buttocks and hips. This condition typically affects only one side of the body.
Though pain is the initial symptom of sciatica, you may also experience numbness and muscle weakness in your leg or foot. In milder cases, sciatica goes away on its own.
Treating thigh numbness
Treatment ultimately depends on the underlying condition causing numbness in your thigh. In mild cases, your numbness will go away with time and no medical treatment is required.
Your doctor may also recommend conservative measures to alleviate numbness and other associated symptoms. Some things you can do on your own to improve your condition include:
In more serious cases, your doctor will focus on decompressing the nerve and relieving pain. You may be prescribed neuromodulators (such as pregabalin or gabapentin) or anti-inflammatory medication to improve your symptoms. However, this will not cure your condition.
Severe cases of thigh numbness may require surgery and physical therapy to improve your mobility. If your symptoms have spread to a larger portion of your leg or body, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove what is obstructing or compressing your nerve. Before pursuing any treatment, discuss your options with your doctor.
Thigh numbness may not be cause for alarm, and can often be treated with rest. However, if you begin to experience worsening symptoms or if your numbness spreads, seek immediate medical attention.
Schedule a visit with your doctor if you begin to experience sudden numbness and pain. Do not self-diagnose. Early detection can help doctors properly diagnose you and provide you with the best treatment for your condition.