The Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve (LFCN)

Attending to the health of your nerves is a key element in protecting your overall health. As such, special treatments for neuropathy (nerve damage) have become an important area of medicine. One such nerve that needs special consideration is the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN). 

The Lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN) originates from the region between the second and third lumbar spinal nerves, L2 and L3. This nerve is known as such because it exits the body at the lateral side of the psoas muscle group.

This nerve is divided into two parts: anterior and posterior. The anterior part of the LFCN has its fibers from L3, and these run along the lateral and front of the thigh down to the knee. The posterior branch of the LFCN is made up of fibers from L2 and traverses the lateral and back sides of the thigh.

The LFCN can be damaged by a number of causes, such as surgery, wearing tight clothing, pregnancy, obesity, and diabetes. Long periods of face-down positioning during surgery can lead to the use of pelvic pads, which can exert undue stress on the thigh muscles and bone, resulting in an entrapment of the nerve.

A damage to this nerve can bring about a loss of senses and cause a tingling or burning discomfort. Likewise, you may notice numbness on the outside regions of your thigh, which can amplify after periods of long standing or walking. This issue is more common among people in the age group of 30-60 years. In certain cases, a scar tissue near the inguinal ligaments can be the origin of this medical condition, which could be a result of a surgery or an injury in the area.

Professionals can sometimes be confused about the cause of this condition, thinking it is either due to impingements on the nerve root or sciatic pain.

Meralgia paresthetica is clinically recognized as a compression of the nerve. This disorder is considered to be quite rare; the estimated number of individuals in the US suffering from it is 200,000. Fortunately, this medical condition is not fatal, as no joints or muscles are supplied by the LFCN.

Damaged LFCN can be managed through non-surgical or conservative methods. To do so, modifications to your dietary and lifestyle habits may be necessary. These instructions may include losing extra weight and wearing looser clothing. Additionally, it is suggested to limit use of your thighs and feet, such as avoiding long periods of standing, walking, or engaging in activities that strain the muscles in your lower extremities.

Waiting is the most common way to manage this ailment. It is thought that this affliction can improve without any medical intervention. In certain cases, one may be asked to see a physiotherapist and do some stretches. Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can also be used to treat this issue.

In order to reduce inflammation and pain in the femoral or thigh area, nerve blocks which involve the use of steroids – such as corticosteroids – can be administered. However, these injections may come with undesired side effects like swollen joints. Additionally, drugs like gabapentin and other anticonvulsants (pregabalin, neurontin, etc.) may be prescribed, though they might also cause adverse effects like dizziness, constipation, and nausea. Tricyclic antidepressants can be used to eliminate pain, though they can have side effects like difficulty passing stools, dizziness, dehydration, and loss of libido.

In unusual cases, medical professionals may suggest surgery as a viable option; however, it is not usually recommended.

The Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve (LFCN) originates from the space between your second and third lumbar nerves (L3 and L2). To prevent potential harm to the LFCN, one should avoid wearing clothes that are too tight or heavy belts for an extended period of time.

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