Femoral neuropathy, or femoral nerve dysfunction, refers to any disorder that results from damage to the femoral nerve. It can lead to pain, numbness, weakness, and possibly paralysis in the legs.
The femoral nerve is one of the largest nerves in the body. It
The femoral nerve mainly controls the thigh muscles and is responsible for hip bending and knee extension. It also receives messages from the skin when there is pressure on the thigh or inner calf.
In this article, we discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments associated with femoral neuropathy.
Direct trauma to the femoral nerve can cause femoral neuropathy. This trauma can occur from an injury or a surgical procedure that involves the hip or abdomen, and in rare cases, it
People can also develop femoral neuropathy as a complication of another medical condition, such as:
- pressure on the femoral nerve, for example, due to a hematoma or
- a fractured pelvis
- bleeding in the abdomen
- holding the leg flexed and turned outward for an extended time, such as in childbirth
The specific symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary depending on the exact location and the extent of the nerve damage.
Signs and symptoms of femoral neuropathy can
- numbness or tingling of the leg
- muscle weakness
- difficulty walking or using the leg
loss of sensation
- a loss of coordination
If a person does not receive treatment for femoral neuropathy, it
- permanent nerve damage
- risk of experiencing an unnoticeable leg injury due to loss of sensation
- a loss of flexibility
- muscle wasting
To assess for femoral neuropathy, a doctor will most likely:
- ask about symptoms
- carry out a physical examination, which will include checking knee reflexes
- ask about the person’s medical history, including recent injuries, recent surgeries, and lifestyle risk factors
They may then refer the person to a neurologist or recommend further testing to confirm the diagnosis and determine how much nerve damage is present.
Tests for femoral neuropathy
Various tests can help diagnose femoral neuropathy.
Electromyography can record the electrical activity of muscles and determine how the nerve is functioning. Nerve conduction velocity tests measure how quickly electrical signals move through nerves.
Neuromuscular ultrasound can diagnose and guide treatment for conditions that affect the nerves and muscles. It can help identify changes in the nerve’s shape.
Treatment for femoral neuropathy varies depending on the cause and extent of the nerve damage. These approaches aim to address the underlying cause of the nerve damage and relieve symptoms.
If pressure on the nerve is causing neuropathy, treatment will focus on reducing pressure on the nerve. Sometimes, femoral neuropathy resolves on its own without treatment.
Treating an underlying cause, such as diabetes, may also help relieve symptoms and prevent neuropathy from worsening.
Some treatments of femoral neuropathy include:
A doctor may recommend a nerve block, a local anesthetic that interrupts, or “turns off,” the pain signals that travel along a certain nerve.
They may also recommend corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and swelling. Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications can help relieve painful and uncomfortable symptoms.
Femoral decompression is a type of surgery that can
In some cases, making lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of femoral neuropathy.
Lifestyle changes can include:
- avoiding activities that can put pressure on the femoral nerve for extended periods
- managing diabetes
- discussing with a doctor the risk of femoral neuropathy when considering hip replacement surgery
Manual therapy is a type of massage.
A therapist will use specific strokes that
- increase range of motion and flexibility
- reduce pain and swelling
- improve muscle performance
They will manipulate the soft muscle to reduce the impact of scarring and stimulate the growth of new tissue.
Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve mobility and muscle strength. Stretching aims to relieve nerve compression by lengthening muscles that have become shortened.
- hip abduction
- hip rotation
- kneeling hip flexor stretch
These exercises aim to help symptoms by mobilizing the sciatic nerve deep in the gluteal region. However, there is little evidence that they have this effect.
A person can do stretching exercises at home, but they should first work with a physical therapist. The therapist will teach them to stretch in a slow, controlled way and how to progress to more strenuous exercises.
Other exercise types that may help include:
- practicing using the spine, pelvis, hips, and lower legs to balance weight
- pelvic floor exercises
- aerobic conditioning to encourage effective blood flow
Where appropriate, a doctor may recommend a brace to support the knee or lower leg.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of counseling that involves learning coping mechanisms to help a person approach problems in new ways. This may be helpful for people living with chronic, or persistent, femoral neuropathy.
Learning more about why the pain occurs
It is not always possible to prevent femoral neuropathy, but some tips that may help include managing diabetes and following professional guidance when exercising.
People should seek medical advice if they experience new or worsening symptoms of femoral neuropathy.
Anyone who has recently undergone hip surgery or another intervention in the pelvic area may wish to contact the doctor who treated them if they develop this complication.
Here are some questions people often ask about femoral neuropathy:
What are the symptoms of femoral nerve damage?
Common symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling in the thigh that
What is the treatment for femoral neuropathy?
Is femoral neuropathy permanent?
Femoral neuropathy is a broad term that refers to any medical condition that causes femoral nerve damage. Common symptoms include numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the legs.
Femoral neuropathy can develop as a result of an injury, surgical procedures involving the hip or abdomen, or as a complication of another medical condition, such as diabetes.
Treatment can help reduce or manage symptoms.