What is numb thigh?
Numb thigh is caused when sensation in the thigh is diminished from nerve damage or dysfunction. It can result from an injury to the thigh or exposure to cold temperatures. Another possible cause of numb thigh is meralgia paresthetica, which is a disorder caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, one of the main nerves within the thigh. Numbness in the thigh or legs can also be caused by a number of chronic conditions that affect the nerves, such as multiple sclerosis and lupus.
Sciatica is numbness, pain or weakness in the leg that is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve, often as a result of spinal stenosis or disc disease. Alternatively, numb thigh may be caused by peripheral neuropathy, a disorder in which the nerves that relay signals between the body and the brain and spinal cord do not function properly. Peripheral neuropathy can be due to a number of specific diseases and disorders, including diabetes and alcoholism. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy has no known cause. In rare cases, if the numb thigh is accompanied by numbness or weakness of the arms or legs on one side of the body, it can be a sign of stroke.
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The duration and course of numb thigh vary widely, depending on the cause. Symptoms caused by injury often have a sudden onset. In other cases, numb thigh resulting from underlying neuropathy develops slowly and persists or worsens over time.
Seek immediate medical care (call 911)if a sudden feeling of numbness in the thigh is accompanied by numbness or weakness on one side of your body; a change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness; or the worst headache of your life, as these can be signs of stroke.
If your numb thigh is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.
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- NINDS paresthesia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/paresthesia/paresthesia.htm.
- Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm.
- Tierney LM Jr., Saint S, Whooley MA (Eds.) Current Essentials of Medicine (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.