Tingling in the thigh, also known as meralgia paresthetica, is a condition characterized by a tingling sensation in the outer part of the thigh muscle, or quadricep. The condition results when the nerve responsible for supplying sensation to the surface of the leg gets compressed. Tight jeans, obesity, weight gain and pregnancy are common culprits behind thigh tingling.
The common effects of meralgia paresthetica include a burning sensation and tingling or numbness in the lateral portion of the quadricep muscle. Less commonly, dull pain in the groin or across the buttocks might occur. Meralgia paresthetica affects only one leg and can be exacerbated by walking or standing for any length of time.
A compression or pinching of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is primarily responsible for tingling sensation in the thigh. This sensory nerve supplies sensation to the surface of the leg, but it does not contribute to the ability for the leg muscle to work. In addition to tight jeans or pants, obesity, and pregnancy, scar tissue from past surgery, nerve injury from diabetes, and seat belt injury from a traffic accident can bring on the condition.
Certain individuals are at a higher risk of meralgia paresthetica than others. Extra weight, diabetes and pregnancy are all common risk factors, and people aged 40 to 60 are typically more vulnerable to the condition. Being overweight or pregnant can increase pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Women who frequently wear "skinny jeans" are also prone to thigh tingling.
Adequately diagnosing meralgia paresthetica depends on a combination of past medical history and a physical examination by a doctor. A doctor will want to rule out other possible conditions and order x-rays, an electromyography test, or a nerve conduction study. Electromyography and nerve conduction studies both help to detect nerve injuries.
Treatment of tingling in the thigh is often achieved through self-care methods. Wearing looser pants and losing weight are two effective treatments for the condition. Tingling accompanied by pain can additionally be treated by over-the-counter pain relievers. In more rare cases, surgery can help decompress the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, though this option is reserved for people with protracted symptoms.