What is a thigh lump?
A thigh lump is a bulge, bump, nodule, contusion, tumor, or swollen area on your thigh. Lumps can be caused by any number of conditions, including infections, inflammation, tumors and trauma. Depending on the cause, lumps may be single or multiple, soft or firm, painful or painless. They may grow rapidly or may not change in size. You may also have other symptoms, depending upon the cause of your thigh lump.
Thigh lumps due to infectious causes in or near your leg may appear as boils or abscesses. Traumatic causes of thigh lumps can include minor injuries such as bug bites or severe injuries that can produce a localized hematoma (collection of blood in body tissues).
Although these are rare causes, both benign and malignant tumors of the skin, soft tissues, or bones can appear as lumps on the thigh. In these cases, either a biopsy or surgical removal of the lump can determine whether cancer is present.
A thigh lump can be a sign of injury and require emergency care. It may in some cases be accompanied by serious injuries to the leg. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as paralysis or inability to move a body part, loss of sensation, absent pulses in your feet, uncontrolled or heavy bleeding, or uncontrollable pain.
If your thigh lump persists or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.
What other symptoms might occur with a thigh lump?
A thigh lump may occur on its own or may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition that caused the lump.
Leg symptoms that may occur along with a thigh lump
A thigh lump may accompany other symptoms affecting your thigh or leg including:
Bleeding or bruising
Limited ability or inability to move the leg
Muscle weakness or spasm
Pain, whether at rest or during specific movements, that may be described as dull, sharp, burning, stabbing or aching
Pus or discharge
Redness and warmth of the skin
Swelling in the leg
Other symptoms that may occur along with a thigh lump
A thigh lump may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:
- Lumps or swelling elsewhere in the body
Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition
In some cases, a thigh lump may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have a thigh lump along with other serious symptoms including:
- Coldness of the feet, with weak or absent pulses
- High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Loss of sensation in the leg
- Obvious breakage or deformity of the bones
- Paralysis or inability to move a body part
- Uncontrollable pain
- Uncontrolled or heavy bleeding, hemorrhage
What causes a thigh lump?
A thigh lump may be a result of an infection, an injury, or, rarely, a benign or malignant tumor.
Infectious causes of a thigh lump
A thigh lump may be caused by infectious processes including:
- Cellulitis (infection of the skin and associated tissues)
- Papillomavirus infections (warts)
Traumatic causes of a thigh lump
Trauma or injury to the thigh may produce a lump. Traumatic causes of thigh lump include:
- Contusions (bruises)
- Bite and sting injuries
- Fractures of bone
- Hematoma (collection of blood in body tissues)
- Retained foreign body
- Sprains and strains
Tumors that cause causes of a thigh lump
A thigh lump can rarely be caused by benign or malignant tumors including:
Fibroma (benign tumor composed of fibrous or connective tissue)
Lipoma (benign fatty growth)
Melanoma (cancer arising in the melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, in the skin or other parts of the body)
Nevi (moles of the skin)
Nonmelanoma skin cancers
Osteosarcoma (type of bone cancer)
Serious or life-threatening causes of a thigh lump
In some cases, a thigh lump may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These include:
- Malignant tumors of bone or soft tissue
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
Questions for diagnosing the cause of a thigh lump
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your thigh lump including:
- How long have you felt your thigh lump?
- Is the lump getting bigger?
- Is the lump painful?
- Is the lump the result of an injury?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
Lumps caused by cancers may have life-threatening consequences that depend on the type and stage (extent) of the cancer. Left untreated, lumps due to abscesses or serious infections may lead to widespread infection in the body. Thigh lumps and associated symptoms can be due to serious diseases, so failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage.
Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:
- Adverse effects of treatment
- Decreased athletic performance
- Permanent or chronic pain
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Spread of cancer
- Spread of infection