The thighs have a stable structure which is capable of bearing the entire body's weight. It has three sets of strong muscles namely abductor muscles, hamstring muscles and quadriceps. Other structural components include the bones, ligaments, cartilage that provide necessary support to the muscles to enable the thighs to carry the body weight and move the legs. Numbness in thighs can be described as a condition where there is total or partial loss of sensation in the thighs. In this condition, you feel the thighs have lost strength and can no longer bear the weight. The leg movements also get affected.
In many cases, feeling numb in the thighs is directly or indirectly related to some kind of nerve problem. However, there are a few other factors too that can trigger this problem. Some of the most prevalent causes of numbness in thighs are as follows:
Meralgia Paresthetica: This is one of the most common causes of thigh numbness. A vital sensory nerve called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve runs from the spinal column to the thigh and provides sensation to the skin surface on the upper part of the thigh. In meralgia paresthetica, this nerve gets compressed and numbness can be felt in the outer thigh area. The feeling is often accompanied by a burning pain and the upper thigh region becomes warm and sensitive to touch. This nerve get pressed mostly in the groin area. It may happen due to a big belly. Numbness in thighs during pregnancy is mostly due to meralgia paresthetica. Obese people are also prone to this problem because of their large sized tummy. Besides, those who wear tight skinny jeans may also develop this problem.
Peripheral Neuropathy: This problem is quite commonly found in diabetic patients. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels often cause damage to the peripheral nerves resulting in numbness in the thighs and toes. A typical characteristic of peripheral neuropathy is that the numbness is felt in the toes and feet first and later on, it gets extended to the legs and thighs.
Sciatica: In this condition, the sciatic nerve that emerges from the lower spine and passes through the back of the thigh gets irritated. As a result, one experiences thigh numbness. The sciatic nerve root gets pinched or compressed by a herniated disc of the lower spine and gives rise to thigh pain and numbness.
Thigh Muscle Injury: When the thigh muscles suffer damage due to overuse or is subjected to a severe blow, then numbness can be felt because of this injury. When hamstring muscles located at the back of the thigh get pulled during physical activity, then pain and numbness is confined to the back of the thigh. On the other hand, when the quadriceps present at the front part of the thigh get overstretched then numbness and sharp thigh pain is experienced in the upper part of the thigh.
Groin Injury: If the groin muscles are strained or tears develop in the muscle fibers, then inflammation occurs in the area that causes pain and numbness. Hernia developing in the groin area displays a similar kind of symptoms. Many a time, the symptoms are first felt in the buttocks and get extended to the front part of the thigh.
Other Causes: Sometimes, you get up in the morning and discover numbness on one thigh that subsides after you move around for a few minutes. This is not at all a serious issue and you need not worry. It happens when you sleep on one side and the nerves in the outer part of the thigh get compressed temporarily which results in loss of sensation. Numbness in the thigh after a surgery is a common occurrence. This is because injections with numbing agents are administered into the body of the patient to block the nerve signals temporarily.
When you visit a doctor with a complaint about thigh numbness, they try to understand the symptoms from you and carry out a physical examination of the thigh. It is then followed by an MRI scan and an electromyography or EMG to check the thigh muscles and nerves. Thus they identify the cause and treat the problem accordingly. It is mostly treated with conservative methods of treatment. An irritated nerve or injured muscle should be rested properly to prevent any further damage to them. When there is pain along with numbness, then anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed for pain relief. For a more severe pain, steroid injections and muscle relaxants are given. Besides, suitable medicines are also prescribed to reduce nerve irritation. The pressure from the compressed nerve can be eased off with traction. If it does not yield any result, then surgery has to be conducted to release the nerve. In other cases, underlying has to be addressed to get rid of thigh numbness. For instance, diabetic patients are advised to control blood sugar levels to minimize nerve damage. Those who are overweight should lose some weight to reduce pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.
Numbness in thighs is not always a major issue but gives a strange sense of discomfort. So you feel helpless and panicked. If it happened once in a while you can ignore it. However, if it persists, then it is likely to be a symptom of some undiagnosed problem that requires timely treatment.