Health of nerves is an essential aspect of your wellbeing. Owing to this, treatments offered to neuropathy (damage of nerves) has become an important branch of healthcare. The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) is a nerve that needs special attention and care.
Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) emerges out of your spinal cord between the second and third nerves i.e., L2 and L3 roots. This nerve gets is name as it comes out at the lateral side of the psoas group of muscles.
This nerve has two sections – namely, anterior and posterior. The anterior section of the LFCN has fibers of L3 with its branches running through the lateral and anterior parts of your thigh till the knee. The posterior section of LFCN has fibers of L2; it passes through the lateral and rear sides of your thigh.
This nerve is vulnerable to various possibilities of damage. Usual causes of damage of LFCN include surgeries done on your pelvic region or spinal cord. It can also be damaged by wearing very tight clothing (includes heavy belts worn by police officers or skilled workers such as carpenters, etc), pregnancy as well as obesity. Those with diabetes are also found to be more vulnerable to likely damages of this nerve. Surgeries that demand prolonged face-down positioning (especially those done on your back or lower back region) may use pelvic pads. These pads may exert undue stress on your thigh muscles and bone. Such prolonged stresses may lead to an entrapment of LFCN.
If this nerve is damaged, it can lead to a loss of senses and can induce pain. This pain manifests as a tingling or burning sensation. At times, you may also feel numbness on the outside areas of your thigh. You may find the feelings (especially, pain) getting aggravated immediately after standing for a long time or walking. This condition is more prevalent among people aged between 30 to 60 years. In a few cases, presence of a scar tissue – near your inguinal ligaments – is found to cause this medical condition. The scar tissue may develop as an outcome of a surgery or an injury in this region.
Experts often get confused with this condition. They think it is caused either by impingements on your nerve root or sciatic pain.
This condition wherein there is a compression of this nerve is clinically termed as meralgia paresthetica. This is categorized as a very rare disorder. In terms of incidence, it is estimated to occur in some 200,000 people living in the US. The only relief is this medical condition is not fatal. It is not life-threatening because no joints or muscles are supplied by LFCN.
Treatment of damaged LFCN is done through non-surgical or conservative means. Approaches to treat include changes made to your diet and lifestyle habits. Specific instructions include shedding extra body weight, opting to wear loose garments, etc. You may also be advised to use your thigh and feet lesser than usual. You may hence be recommended to spend lesser time standing, walking or staying away from activities that may work the muscles of your thigh or feet.
Most practical treatment is to wait it out. Experts believe that the condition can get cured by itself over some time. You may be advised to consult a physiotherapist (physio) to do a few stretching exercises. Some OTC medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, etc are also administered to treat this condition.
Treatments may include administration of steroids-based nerve blocks. Steroids – for example, corticosteroids are injected. These help in reducing the inflammation as well as pain in your femoral or thigh areas. However, these steroids may trigger some undesired side effects like swelling of your joints, etc. Treatment may also include prescription of drugs such as gabapentin and other anticonvulsants like pregabalin, neurontin, etc. These medications may cause a few adverse side effects such as dizziness, constipation, nausea, etc. Other medications prescribed include antidepressants (tricyclic genre) to eliminate pain. These drugs may also cause difficulties to pass stools, dizziness, dehydration, loss of libido, etc.
Surgical approaches are not commonly advised, but may be recommended in very rare instances.
In essence, lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) emerges out of your spinal cord between the second and third nerves i.e., L3 and L2 nerve roots. In order to avoid likely damages to LFCN, choose not to wear excessively tight clothing or heavy belts for a longer span of time.