Read below about numbness in one thigh, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your numbness in one thigh from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Numbness in One Thigh Symptoms

Numbness in one thigh can be described as a loss of sensation or tingling in that area. It is reasonable to be concerned if you experience this symptom, especially if associated characteristics described below are persistent or intense. The cause can range in severity and will likely need to be evaluated by a medical provider for a definitive answer.

Characteristics

For example, symptoms you may also experience that accompany your thigh numbness can include:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Pain

Symptoms that extend beyond the thigh

Sensation in the thigh is primarily controlled by the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Because of this nerve's specific location, symptoms are often experienced most significantly in the outer (lateral) part of the thigh. Branches of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve also supply the anterior and posterior portion of the thigh; thus, symptoms can be felt in these areas as well, sometimes extending to the knee. See this photo here of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve and its area of innervation [5].

It is important to follow-up with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms. Numbness in the thigh can signal an underlying condition that requires prompt treatment.

Numbness in One Thigh Causes

Changes in sensation occur when there is injury or disruption to a sensory nerve. The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is particularly susceptible to injury or disruption in the form of compression because of its anatomical course in the body. It begins near the abdomen at the psoas muscle, then crosses diagonally over a bone in the pelvis called the anterior superior iliac spine, and then passes under, over or sometimes parallel to a structure called the inguinal ligament in the groin before going to the thigh.

See a visual representation of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve here.

When the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is damaged or compressed, a condition called meralgia paresthetica and its associated symptoms of numbness, tingling and pain results [3,4]. There are four main categories of injury to the nerve in the case of meralgia paresthetica: mechanical, metabolic, inflammatory and iatrogenic (i.e. relating to a condition caused by medical examination or treatment).

Mechanical

Mechanical causes relate to issues that increase pressure on the groin or path of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.

  • Entrapment: Due to its course, the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is susceptible to entrapment between the pelvic bone and the inguinal ligament, especially if it runs underneath. Seemingly mild activities such as cycling or walking, especially for long periods, can result in compression of the nerve between these two points. Traumatic injuries to the pelvis can also result in similar compression as well as damage to the nerve.
  • Environmental: External factors such as tight clothing can result in meralgia paresthetica. Any outerwear such as belts, tight pants, and even corsets can cause enough pressure on the nerve and result in meralgia paresthetica.
  • Weight: Pregnancy or weight gain localized to the abdominal region can also cause increased pressure on the groin or path of the lateral cutaneous nerve.
  • Tumors: Very rarely, cancerous and noncancerous growths in the body can directly compress nerves in the upper thigh, including the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.

Metabolic

There are many systemic, metabolic conditions that can result in damage to the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. These conditions affect the way that the nerve sends and receives signals from the brain and spinal cord and disrupts proper sensory function, resulting in a condition known as neuropathy.

  • Systemic: Dysfunction in the systemic processes that your body uses day-to-day, for example, glucose and insulin dysregulation in diabetes, can damage the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve causing numbness in the thigh and other parts of the body.
  • Toxins: Toxins that cause injury to the nerves include heavy metals such as lead and substances such as alcohol. Too much exposure to either can cause nerve damage that leads to numbness.

Inflammatory

Inflammatory causes of numbness in one thigh may be related to:

  • Autoimmune: Many inflammatory diseases that result in the body attacking itself can also affect the nerves and cause injury that results in numbness. Conditions such as multiple sclerosis and lupus are examples of such autoimmune diseases.
  • Infections: Bacterial infections such as Lyme disease and multiple viral infections such as shingles can cause inflammation and nerve injury that results in thigh numbness.

Iatrogenic

An iatrogenic cause refers to any condition that results from medical examination or treatment. Due to its superficial course, the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve can often be injured or compressed in surgeries involving the pelvic area or lower abdomen.

9 Possible Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced numbness in one thigh. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

  1. 1.Piriformis Syndrome

    Piriformis syndrome is a condition when a muscle spanning the lower spine to the top of the thighbone presses upon the sciatic nerve, causing pain and numbness.

    1-2 months

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    pelvis pain, butt pain, pain when passing stools, leg numbness, hip pain
    Symptoms that never occur with piriformis syndrome:
    involuntary defecation, leaking urine
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Herniated (Slipped) Disk in the Lower Back

    The backbone, or spine, is made up of 26 bones called vertebrae. In between the bones are soft disks filled with a jelly-like substance. These disks cushion the vertebrae and keep them in place. Although people talk about a slipped disk, nothing actually slips out of place. The outer shell of the disk ruptures, and the jelly-like substance bulges out. It may be pressing on a nerve, which is what causes the pain.A slipped disk is more likely to happen due to strain on the back, such as during heavy lifting, and older individuals are at higher risk.

    The pain associated with a slipped disk usually goes away within six weeks. If the pain lasts longer, consult a doctor. They may send you to see a back specialist for an MRI of your spine, and surgery may be considered.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    lower back pain, moderate back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that gets worse when sitting, leg weakness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Groin Nerve Irritation

    There are several nerves supplying the groin, inner thigh and genital region. Entrapment or irritation of one of these nerves can result in pain or numbness in this area. This is often caused by surgery in this area but can happen without a specific cause as well.

    Resolution of symptoms depends on cause and extent of the neuralgia.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    thigh numbness, groin numbness, testicle numbness, sharp testicle or scrotum pain, sharp groin pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Thigh Nerve Issue (Meralgia Paresthetica)

    Meralgia paresthetica is a nerve condition that causes an area of skin over the upper outer thigh to feel numb, tingly, or painful. This is caused by compression of a nerve known as the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh as it passes underneath a tough fibrous ligament known as the inguinal ligament.

    Pain and pins-and-needles feeling resolves with time. Sometimes numbness and altered sensation remains for life.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in the outside of the hip, pain in one thigh, thigh numbness, tingling upper leg, hip numbness
    Symptoms that never occur with thigh nerve issue (meralgia paresthetica):
    new headache, swollen hip, swollen hips, swelling of one hip, leg swelling, weakness of both legs, leg weakness, leaking urine
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  5. 5.Sciatica

    The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve of the human body, and it runs through the buttock, down the thigh and into the calf, sending information to the muscles in the back of the thigh and leg, as well as the surrounding skin. The sciatic nerve itself is supplied by nerves coming from the spine in the lower back. Sometimes, one of the disks separating the vertebrae (bones of the spine) may bulge out a little bit, putting pressure on one of these nerve roots, causing sciatica, or shooting pain down the sciatic nerve.

    Problem will resolve itself within several weeks in 80-90% of cases.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, numbness in one foot, pain in one leg, numbness in one thigh
    Symptoms that always occur with sciatica:
    back pain that shoots down the leg
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  6. 6.Compartment Syndrome

    Compartment syndrome is a serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow.

    Prognosis is highly variable after surgery and depends on how rapidly you are treated.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    arm numbness, hand numbness, foot numbness, pain in one leg, thigh numbness
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  7. 7.Stroke or Tia (Transient Ischemic Attack)

    A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is stopped.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, leg numbness, arm numbness, new headache, stiff neck
    Symptoms that never occur with stroke or tia (transient ischemic attack):
    bilateral weakness
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service
  8. 8.Copper Deficiency

    Copper is a mineral that keeps the body healthy. The body doesn't need much copper; however, some people may not get enough in their diet.

    Days with treatment

    Rarity:
    Ultra rare
    Top Symptoms:
    sudden urgency to urinate, difficulty walking, numbness in both hands, muscle stiffness/rigidity, numbness in both thighs
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Spinal Stenosis

    The spine, or backbone, protects the spinal cord and allows people to stand and bend. Spinal stenosis causes narrowing in the spine. The narrowing puts pressure on nerves and the spinal cord and can cause pain.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    lower back pain, back pain that shoots down the leg, back pain that shoots to the butt, difficulty walking, thigh pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Numbness in One Thigh Treatments, Relief and Prevention

Numbness in one thigh can be alleviated or prevented with a few at-home measures. If you cannot find relief, you should consult your physician. They can make further recommendations for medical treatment.

Prevention through lifestyle changes

You can prevent more temporary symptoms with the following lifestyle changes:

  • Restrictions or movements: Avoid repetitive motions or cramped positions that put unnecessary pressure on your lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.
  • Exposures: Avoid toxic exposures such as alcohol and check your home and work environment for substances such as lead.
  • Clothing: Avoid tight clothing and opt for looser, more relaxed clothing especially around the pelvic region.

Medical treatments

However, if you experience frequent, persistent episodes of numbness, visit your physician to find to get appropriate treatment. Depending on the cause, your physician may suggest the following treatments:

  • Anticonvulsants: Some anticonvulsant medications (used for seizures) can also be used to combat nerve pain and include medications such as gabapentin.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Injections can reduce inflammation and help relieve pain; however they include certain side effects such as joint infection and nerve damage that you need to discuss with your healthcare provider before beginning.
  • Surgery: If other treatments are ineffective and your symptoms continue to progress or worsen, your physician may recommend looking into surgical options to combat your symptoms.

FAQs About Numbness in One Thigh

Here are some frequently asked questions about numbness in one thigh.

Will the numbness in the thigh affect my gait or walking?

The numbness in your thigh should not affect your gait or walking because the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is a pure sensory nerve that only provides innervation related to sensation and feeling. It does not affect your ability to use the muscles in your leg. If you are experiencing problems with your gait, make an appointment with your healthcare provider promptly; this could signal a different underlying condition.

Why am I only feeling numbness in one thigh?

You are only feeling numbness in one thigh because the nerve in that thigh has been affected, whereas the nerve in the other thigh has not.

Is numbness in one thigh life-threatening?

Usually, numbness in one thigh is not life-threatening, especially if it is related to damage or compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. There are life- and/or limb-threatening conditions such as compartment syndrome — a situation in which increased pressure within a confined space can lead to inadequate blood supply to an organ — that can also present as numbness. Usually, these conditions are associated with severe trauma and symptoms such as paralysis, lack of pulse and changes in the color of the extremity.

Will the numbness spread from my thigh to other parts of my lower body?

If your symptoms are only due to compression or injury to the lateral cutaneous femoral nerve, your symptoms should remain localized to the thigh and spread to as low as the knee. If you have neuropathy in other nerves caused by other conditions, you may also experience numbness in the hands, feet or toes as well.

How long will the numbness last?

Decompression of the nerve usually results in very fast relief. Decompression can be attained by simply wearing more loose-fitting clothing and does not necessarily require surgery.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Numbness in One Thigh

  • Q.Lie down. Have someone hold onto your foot on the affected side and try to rotate the foot inward. Does this cause pain?
  • Q.Do your symptoms improve with activity (moving around and such)?
  • Q.Do your symptoms worsen when sitting?
  • Q.What is your body mass?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our numbness in one thigh symptom checker to find out more.

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Numbness in One Thigh Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced numbness in one thigh have also experienced:

    • 12% Lower Back Pain
    • 8% Pain in One Thigh
    • 4% Tingling Upper Leg
  • People who have experienced numbness in one thigh had symptoms persist for:

    • 36% Less Than a Day
    • 27% Over a Month
    • 20% Less Than a Week
  • People who have experienced numbness in one thigh were most often matched with:

    • 33% Piriformis Syndrome
    • 33% Herniated (Slipped) Disk in the Lower Back
    • 33% Groin Nerve Irritation
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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References

  1. Meralgia paresthetica. Mayo Clinic. Published March 8, 2018. Mayo Clinic Link
  2. Erbay H. Meralgia paresthetica in differential diagnosis of low-back pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain. 2002;18(2):132-5. NCBI Link
  3. Cheatham SW, Kolber MJ, Salamh PA. Meralgia paresthetica: A review of the literature. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2013;8(6):883-893. NCBI Link
  4. Ruane JJ, Bring BV. Meralgia paresthetica - a common cause of thigh pain. Practical Pain Management. Updated August 6, 2014. PPM Link
  5. Stewart M, Ariyasinghe C, et al. Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Radiopaedia.org. Radiopaedia Link