11/25/2011 - Questions and Answers

Thigh Pain: Symptoms and Treatment for Thigh Pain

By: Mark Castleden

Thigh Pain

Thigh pain: A pain on the outer side of the thigh may mean that one of the large sensory nerves to your leg is being compressed. This condition is known as meralgia paresthetica. Therefore, thigh pain can be a symptom of Meralgia Paresthetica

In this article:

Symptoms and Signs of Thigh Pain
Thigh Pain: How to Treat?
Thigh Pain: Related articles


I have been having some problems around my right outside thigh area. I get a pain like an electrical shock, even when I cough it pulls and produces that sensation. Also it hurts even to have my bed sheet lying on top of the area. It also burns deep down inside my thigh. What could be happening?


The nerves in your body bring information to the brain about the environment (sensory nerves) and messages from the brain to activate muscles (motor nerves). To do this, nerves must pass over, under, around and through your joints, bones, and muscles. Usually, there is enough room to permit easy passage. But swelling, injury, or pressure can narrow these openings and squeeze the nerve. When that happens, there may be pain, paralysis, or some other dysfunction.

A painful, burning sensation on the outer side of the thigh may mean that one of the large sensory nerves (the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve) to your leg is being compressed. This condition is known as meralgia paresthetica.

Symptoms and Signs of Thigh Pain

Thigh Pain can be a symptom of meralgia paresthetica, here are the others:

- Pain on the outer side of the thigh, as you describe, occasionally extending to the outer side of the knee
- A burning sensation, tingling, or numbness in the same area
- Occasionally, aching in the groin area or pain spreading across the buttocks
- Usually only one side of the body is affected
- It's usually more sensitive to light touch than to firm pressure, such as you describe while in bed.

Your physician will ask about recent surgeries, injury to the hip, or repetitive activities that could irritate the nerve. He or she will also check for any sensory differences between the affected leg and your other leg. To verify the site of the burning pain, the physician will put some pressure on the nerve to reproduce the sensation. You may need an abdominal examination to exclude any problems in this area. If you are female the physician may do a pelvic exam as well.

X-rays will help identify any bone abnormalities that might be putting pressure on the nerve. If your physician suspects that a disc problem, bony spurs, or a growth such as a tumor is the source of the pressure, you may need to get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT (computed tomography) scan. In rare cases, a nerve conduction study may be advised.

Restrictive clothing and weight gain are two common reasons for pressure on a nerve. Contributing factors are wearing a heavy tool belt, corset, girdle and similar conditions where pressure on a nerve may be intensified. If you're overweight, a weight loss program would be indicated.

Thigh Pain: How to Treat?

Treatment will vary, depending on the source of the pressure. The goal is to remove the cause of the compression. This may mean resting from an aggravating activity, losing weight, wearing loose clothing, or using a toolbox instead of wearing a tool belt. In more severe cases, your physician may give you an injection of a corticosteroid preparation to reduce inflammation. This generally relieves the symptoms for some time. In rare cases, surgery is needed to release the nerve.

Other causes of your symptoms include what are known as myofascial syndromes involving the hip and thigh muscles. If this is found to be the problem, physical therapy would help.

Finally, we should mention the possibility that a form of diabetic neuropathy, called proximal neuropathy, can cause the symptoms you have complained of. Your doctor will certainly want to know if you have any diabetic symptoms, and may want you to have a fasting blood sugar level done.

If you are concerned about Thigh Pain, you might want to read the following articles:

Meralgia paresthetica
Hip Replacement: Questions and Answers

Created on: 04/14/2003
Reviewed on: 11/25/2011

Your rating: None Average: 4.1 (31 votes)
Anonymous wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

Just a follow up to the post below - I didn't properly note how the post order works, the one I was referencing will no longer be #4, but was apparantly written in February concerning a 12/14/09 hip replacement.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 42 weeks ago

RE: Annon post # 4 on 12/09 hip surgery and post-op tingling/burning thighs -

It is late April 2010 as I read this, and am wondering how you are doing with this.
I am approx. 2 1/2 weeks post -op with a hip replacement, and experiencing almost the same as you describe, including waking up in excruciating pain.
These symptoms started for me about 1 1/2 weeks post -op (co-incidentally at a day or two after the cessation of a Celebrex/Lyrica combo prescribed to me for first 7 days post-op), and at first involved the good leg, with a reletively minor level of pain and discomfort that appeared and subsided throughout the day.
After a couple of days of this, the thigh on the operated side was also involved, with a higher degree of discomfort than the non-operated side that first showed symptoms.
Now at 2 1/2 weeks I am waking up with a # 10 level pain in the right thigh, (same side as hip operation) tingling and BURNING in nature, and enough to make me shout out - and I have a pretty high pain tolerance. This subsides as soon as I move to a different position, usually with my legs moved over the edge of the bed. I can immediately walk and further work out the pain - but this is alarming to say the least.
My surgeons office has been notified of all of this, but they don't seem to be alarmed enough to want to see me right away. I have my first full blown follow-up with the surgeon in another 5 days, and I'm sure we will have plenty to discuss! - especially as I will be using this time to further educate myself on this with whatever info I can find.
All of this seems to be consistant with Meralgia Paresthetica - somewhat of a mystery as why on both thigh's, as this is less common from what I've seen on this so far.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

i have the pain from lower hip to thigh muscles only in some particular positions, it will shift from left side of the hip to the right side also. i cant mention the particular point of pain were it was occuring some times it suffers me a lot sometimes it wont

Anonymous wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

A bit embarrassing to ask, but could sitting too long on the toilet also cause this condition? Family habit has been to leave magazines in the bathroom. Realize I've spent much too much time reading while "enthroned" and wonder if this could be the cause of my now 3-month pain in the upper outer thigh. Even sleeping now can be painful. Could it be as simple a cause as this? (Oftentimes we overlook what might seem too basic! Thirty years ago my GP father diagnosed a man's back pain as being caused simply by his keeping a very thick wallet in his back pocket. When removed, man healed and experienced no further pain!)

manishaghimire wrote 2 years 1 week ago

Does this Thigh Pain and back pain has the similar Symptoms? I don't get thigh pains but I am facing some kind of same symptoms in my back.Does this treatment as same as the thigh pain? Also I want to ask about the long term effect of this type of pains.
Indianapolis Hospitals

Anonymous wrote 2 years 1 week ago

OK i had a total rip replacement in the left hip on dec 14 2009 and now coming up on the 2 month mark i still have a burning sensation and hyper sensitivity in the thigh area ...but every time i tell the doc it burns like someone is lighting it on fire and soft touch hurts like mad .and i wake up screaming in pain he tells me its normal and that the nerves are just firing up ....is this true and why dont they warn you of all these pains before the surgery ?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 1 week ago

oh my name is chad

Anonymous wrote 2 years 18 weeks ago

My husband used to have chronic pain in thigh due to infarction. But everything is ok now.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

I bought a bike some days ago to go to my office (5kms from home), when I'm back home, I found my thighs to pain for a few minutes, what can I do to avoid thigh pain after biking?

June Chen, MD wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

It is normal to expect some muscle ache after exercising, especially if you have not been exercising in some time. Stretching before and after exercise may help to decrease pain as muscles take time to warm up and cool down. As you exercise more and increase your exercise tolerance, you may find that your muscles ache less.

June Chen, MD wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Typically, symptoms of meralgia paresthetica are aggravated by standing or walking and alleviated by sitting. While your symptoms may be indicative of meralgia paresthetica, the diagnosis can be confirmed by nerve conduction studies. Talk to your doctor about your concerns.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 26 weeks ago

Pain in the thigh when I stand after sitting in a chair, Once I stand and I straighten the leg, I am OK,.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 41 weeks ago

I have thigh pain, inner thigh, practically under my leg by the crotch. This only occurs when I try to stand up and can be so severe that I am practically thrown back down into the chair. Sometimes when I get up it grabs so bad that I yell. Once I stand and put weight on the leg and straighten it, it is gone until the next time. I thought it was an L3-4 issue with my back but besides having a terrible back, my doc finds nothing. I got shots in the greater trochanter bursa on both legs and it lessened my problems by about 50 percent but only lasted about two weeks. New hip x-rays yesterday were absolutely normal. My other leg has problems in the same area but of a different nature.

Any comments?