What Is Meralgia Paresthetica?


Meralgia paresthetica, also known as Bernhardt-Roth syndrome, is a condition that involves compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve provides sensation to the skin along the front and outer-side of the thigh. It is a large nerve that originates at the spinal cord in the lower back and extends through the pelvis and groin to the upper thigh. This nerve only affects sensation and does not impact muscle activity.


Meralgia paresthetica causes abnormal sensations in the outer side of the thigh. Symptoms typically only impact one side of the body and may intensify after standing or walking for long periods. Meralgia paresthetica symptoms include, but are limited to, the following:

  • Pain
  • Burning, aching, tingling or stabbing sensations
  • Numbness
  • Increased sensitivity to light touch


Meralgia paresthetica is caused by irritation, inflammation or entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Reasons this may occur include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Wearing tight clothing or a heavy belt
  • Repetitive leg motions
  • Diabetes
  • Injury to the hip area
  • Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity or weight gain

Risk factors

Although anyone can develop meralgia paresthetica, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing it. They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Between 30 and 60 years of age
  • Pregnancy
  • Lead paint exposure
  • Different length legs
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Recent surgery
  • Seatbelt injury during an accident
  • Wearing tight clothing, girdle, or heavy utility belt
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