Numbness in the thigh
What is thigh numbness?
A numbness in the thigh is a reduction or diminution of sensation or sensitivity. Some know the numbness of feeling like a part of the body has fallen asleep. Touching the thigh doesn't feel as strong as it did before. In some cases, numbness can be so severe that the person cannot feel anything in the area. In some cases, numbness can only affect the thigh or the whole leg.
Also read the article on the topic: Numbness in the foot
Causes of numbness in the thigh can result from nerve damage caused by e.g. Constrictions, irritations or inflammations occur. Other causes may include poor blood flow or inflammatory changes in the brain or spinal cord in the areas of sensitivity. This also includes herniated discs and certain forms of polyneuropathies or, in some cases, inflammatory diseases such as MS. If you suddenly feel numb, you should also think about a stroke.
Herniated disc of the lumbar spine
Lumbar spine (lumbar spine) herniated discs are common in middle-aged people who have to do physical work, lift heavy objects, are overweight, or exercise too little. A herniated disc in the lumbar spine is the most common type of herniated disc. It manifests itself in the form of pain in the back that can radiate into the leg. Further symptoms can affect the sensitivity, the ability to move (i.e. paralysis) and the reflexes, and restricted movement in the back and muscular hardening can also occur. Depending on the height of the spine at which the herniated disc occurs, the accompanying symptoms manifest themselves in different areas of the leg, as these areas or muscles are supplied by nerve roots from certain spinal segments, these are called dermatomes or identification muscles. If numbness only occurs in the thigh, e.g. the nerve roots L2, L3 or S2 are affected. The L2 nerve root supplies an area on the anterior thigh very high up, just below the inguinal ligament. The L3 nerve root innervates a large part of the front thigh up to the knee. The nerve root S2 supplies a limited area on the rear thigh from the buttocks to just below the hollow of the knee. The other nerve roots L4 and S1 also supply parts of the thigh, but also parts of the lower leg.
Please also read our topic: Is numbness an indication of a herniated disc?
You might also be interested in this topic: Symptoms of a herniated disc in the lumbar spine
The sciatic nerve is a nerve that innervates only muscles in the thigh and runs in the buttocks and back thighs. Sensitive innervation, which is responsible for sensations, does not take place in the thigh through the sciatic nerve, so that sciatica irritation usually does not lead to numbness in the thigh.
Meralgia paraesthetica is a technical term for the narrowing of a particular nerve under the inguinal ligament. This nerve is called Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve and sensitively supplies an outer skin area of the thigh. This means that the sensation of touch is passed on by this nerve. Since the nerve runs under the inguinal ligament, there is little space even in the natural position of the nerve. If the space of the nerve is then narrowed further by e.g. Obesity, pregnancy or jeans that are too tight can cause symptoms such as burning pain or sensory disturbances in the outer area of the thigh. Numbness can also be part of it, but the pain is usually the main focus. These symptoms usually improve when the hip joint is flexed.
You can find more information in our topic: Meralgia Paresthetica
MS or multiple sclerosis is a serious chronic disease of the nervous system. This disease causes damage to the nerve sheaths and in this way the nerves can lose their function. If nerves of sensitivity are affected, numbness can occur, including in the thigh. Symptoms of MS can be very diverse, other symptoms can include also paralysis or visual disturbances. The diagnosis of such a serious illness should only be made by a doctor.
You might also be interested in this topic: Course of multiple sclerosis
After a disc surgery
A disc surgery is usually only necessary in the case of severe herniated discs, for example if there is a bladder and bowel emptying disorder or very severe paralysis. Every operation has certain risks, including a disc operation. Such an operation takes place close to the spinal canal, i.e. nerves can also be damaged during surgery. Therefore, there is also the possibility that nerves for the sensitivity in the thigh can be affected and thus numbness in the thigh can arise. There are also other risks that you will be informed about by your doctor during the consultation.
You might also be interested in this topic: Risks of a disc surgery
Can that also be a thrombosis?
Thrombosis in the thigh does not usually cause numbness in the thigh. A thrombosis can be completely symptom-free or manifest itself, for example, through pain or swelling, redness.
Also read our topic: Recognize a thrombosis
In order to be able to make a diagnosis, a conversation usually takes place first, in which the person concerned describes the symptoms, the time course and accompanying symptoms; it is also important to describe accompanying illnesses and the medication taken. This will be followed by a physical exam and possibly a blood test. If the doctor has a suspicion, he may already order an imaging, e.g. an MRI of the spine. Further diagnostics can follow in order to classify the symptoms more precisely.
Which doctor treats this?
A numbness in the thigh is usually treated by a specialist in neurology. In the event of a herniated disc, an orthopedic surgeon can also be involved. In the event of uncertainty, the family doctor should be consulted, who can then issue the correct referral.
Other accompanying symptoms
The accompanying symptoms, which often occur with numbness in the thigh, depend on the underlying disease and can vary accordingly. Pain or burning may occur as well as tingling and other sensory disorders. In some cases, paralysis or visual disturbances can occur as well as bladder and bowel problems.
If back pain occurs in addition to numbness in the leg, this is typical for a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. The pain can radiate into the leg, and paralysis or paralysis can also occur. If there are problems with emptying the bowel and bladder, a doctor should be consulted urgently.
Treatment / therapy
Numbness in the thigh is treated depending on the underlying disease.
In the case of a herniated disc as the underlying disease, physiotherapy and adequate pain medication are often used as therapy for the herniated disc. If the herniated disc is very severe, disc surgery can also be performed as a therapeutic option.
If the cause is meralgia paraesthetica, i.e. a constriction of the nerve below the inguinal ligament, there is usually a triggering factor for the pressure increase in the groin. Jeans that are too tight should be avoided and weight should be reduced if you are obese.
If the doctor has actually diagnosed multiple sclerosis as the underlying disease, there are drug therapy options for MS. In so-called MS attacks, a cortisone preparation is usually administered via the vein in the hospital, usually for 3-5 days. After the relapse therapy, long-term therapy with a basic drug for MS is initiated. There are various medications to choose from and the right one is selected together with the attending physician or, if there is insufficient improvement or side effects, the medication can also be changed again during the course of the treatment.
For other causes (e.g. a stroke and certain types of polyneuropathy) there are other suitable therapy options.
Also read our topic: Therapy of a herniated disc of the lumbar spine
The duration of thigh numbness depends on the cause and therefore it is difficult to make a general statement.
The regression of numbness varies depending on the underlying disease and treatment. In most cases the prognosis is favorable. With lasting damage to a nerve or a nerve pathway, there is the possibility of permanent numbness.
According to location:
On the outside
If only the outside of the thigh is affected by a feeling of numbness, this is the typical location for the symptoms of meralgia paraesthetica, i.e. an entrapment of the nerve under the inguinal ligament. Because this nerve that Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, is responsible for the sensitive supply of the entire outside of the thigh. Burning pain and sensory disturbances on the outside of the thigh are typical. Numbness can also occur, but pain is often the main focus.Jeans that are too tight, obesity and pregnancy all contribute to constriction of the nerves under the inguinal ligament. The symptoms usually improve when the hip joint is flexed.
Is this nerve damaged by another cause, e.g. Inflammation or violence can also lead to numbness on the outside of the thigh.
On the front thigh
If the numbness occurs on the front of the thigh, e.g. A herniated disc in the lumbar spine affecting segments of the L2 or L3 nerve roots may be the cause. Nerve roots supply a certain area of the body with sensitivity, this area is called a dermatome. The L2 nerve root affects an area on the anterior thigh just below the inguinal ligament. The L3 nerve root supplies an area that runs from the thigh outside and up, down and inside, and ends just above the knee. In the case of a herniated disc, accompanying symptoms can also occur pain or sensory disorders or paralysis. Should bladder or bowel problems occur, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Are these nerve roots irritated by other causes, such as due to an inflammatory process or constriction, similar symptoms can occur in these dermatomes
In addition, damage to a nerve that supplies the front of the thigh can lead to numbness. This nerve is called Femoral nerve and has branches that sensitively supply the skin on the front thigh and branches that supply parts of the thigh muscles and are therefore important for the movement of the knee. In addition to the numbness, e.g. Problems climbing stairs occur because the extension in the knee joint is weakened. Damage to the nerve can e.g. occur as a result of operations in the nerve area, through constriction of the nerve due to bleeding or masses or after punctures in the groin region.