Many factors can cause numbness in the thigh. These include keeping the legs crossed for too long, wearing tight clothing, multiple sclerosis (MS), and lupus. Treatment options depend on what is causing the numbness.

From conditions affecting blood flow to damage to the nerves themselves, there are many potential causes of numbness in the thigh. Depending on the cause, there are also many treatments available.

This article explores some common underlying causes of numbness in one or both thighs. It also discusses treatment options.

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Meralgia paresthetica is a neurological condition that causes numbness or tingling on the outer and front aspect of the thigh.

According to an older 2007 article, the condition is most common in people aged 30–40 years.

Meralgia paresthetica may develop following trauma to the thigh. However, a person can also develop it as a result of obesity, pregnancy, and issues that increase pressure within the abdomen, such as an abdominal hernia.

Wearing tight clothing around the waist, such as a tight belt, may also cause meralgia paresthetica.


In most cases, doctors tend to advise people to wear looser clothing or lose weight, which may involve doing exercises or making dietary changes.

For cases of meralgia paresthetica that do not go away, a doctor may administer a nerve block. This involves injecting numbing medications to the areas around the affected nerves. There are also medications that can help manage pain, like antidepressants or anti-seizure drugs.

In rare instances, a doctor may recommend surgical treatment. This is usually the case when a person has experienced physical trauma or undergone a surgical procedure that has damaged the skin and nearby nerves.

Lupus is an autoimmune condition that can affect many systems in the body, including the nervous system. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, this includes the central nervous system, as well as the peripheral and autonomic nervous systems.

People whose lupus affects their peripheral nervous system may have symptoms in their extremities, including their thighs. In these areas, they may experience:

  • tingling
  • numbness
  • a burning sensation

Doctors can refer to a list of diagnostic criteria and use imaging scans, blood tests, and a description of the person’s symptoms to determine if they have the condition.


There is currently no cure for lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. Doctors will usually recommend treatments such as:

Eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and stopping smoking may also help people manage the condition.

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, numbness or tingling in the lower extremities is a common initial symptom for people with MS.

The condition usually only causes numbness on one side of the body. MS affects the brain and spinal cord by attacking the protective fibers on the outside of a person’s nerves.

Because of this, MS affects the ability of nerve transmissions to communicate. The result can be tingling, numbness, and an overall loss of sensation.


Currently, there is no cure for MS.

Doctors tend to treat MS with medications such as steroids. They may also suggest plasma exchange , which doctors call plasmapheresis. Plasma exchange involves separating the plasma from the blood cells.

Healthcare professionals may also prescribe disease modifying medications that can help slow the progression of the condition.

Other treatment options include physical therapy and muscle relaxants to reduce spasms.

A person may develop a tumor in the soft tissues of their thigh. This tumor might then press on the nerves and blood vessels, causing tingling and numbness. Doctors call these tumors “soft tissue sarcomas.”

These tumors occur in soft tissues in or around the thighs, including:

In addition to numbness, a person may experience pain or swelling in the thigh.


According to the American Cancer Society, treatment depends on the specific area the tumor affects and the stage of the tumor. A doctor will usually recommend surgical removal of the tumor.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may also help kill the cancerous cells. These techniques should also keep them from coming back.

PAD is a condition that occurs when excess amounts of plaque build up in the blood vessels in the thighs.

When plaque builds up, it affects blood flow and causes symptoms such as numbness and pain in the thighs.

In addition to thigh numbness, PAD can cause symptoms such as:

  • pain when climbing stairs
  • a heavy feeling in the leg muscles
  • skin that feels cooler on one side of the leg than the other
  • skin that is paler than usual or bluish
  • slower toenail or leg hair growth on the affected limb
  • sores on the feet and legs that are slow to heal

A doctor may identify the condition when feeling for a person’s pulse and comparing the blood pressure in both legs.


Treatment options for PAD depend on its progression. Doctors may recommend surgical techniques to restore blood flow to the leg. Examples include bypass grafting and angioplasty.

Doctors may also recommend making lifestyle changes to promote better blood flow to the legs. Examples include:

  • stopping smoking
  • following a heart-healthy diet
  • increasing physical activity

In addition, they may recommend medications to help manage the condition and any complications.

When something compresses the nerves that provide sensation to a certain area of the body, doctors refer to it as a pinched nerve. These can affect the thighs and surrounding areas, including the buttocks and lower back.

Pinched nerves in this area can occur due to a narrowing of the spinal canal or a slipped disk in the back. In addition to thigh numbness, symptoms of a pinched nerve in this area may include:

  • sciatica, which describes pain that shoots down the back of the thigh from the lower back or hips
  • problems moving or walking comfortably
  • weakness on one or both sides of the body

If a person is experiencing symptoms such as difficulty pushing off with the foot or a loss of bowel or bladder control, they should seek immediate medical attention.


Doctors may be able to treat a pinched nerve with conservative measures. These may include physical therapy exercises, hot and cold therapy, and NSAIDs.

If a person’s symptoms do not get better, a doctor may recommend surgery to correct the underlying cause of the pinched nerve.

Additional potential causes of numbness in the thigh include:

  • Diabetic neuropathy: Nerve damage due to diabetes can also cause thigh numbness. Although most symptoms of diabetic neuropathy cause tingling and numbness in the hands and feet, the condition may also affect the thighs.
  • Obesity: This condition can create additional pressure on the nerves. Carrying excess weight is a risk factor for conditions such as meralgia paresthetica.
  • Tight clothing: Wearing very tight clothing can restrict blood flow, which may result in numbness in the thigh.

A person should seek immediate medical care if they cannot feel a pulse in their leg, if the leg is cold to the touch, or if the leg appears very pale. These symptoms indicate that there is little to no blood flow.

A person should see a doctor as quickly as possible if they have the following symptoms:

  • numbness in the leg on most days of the week
  • pain or tingling in the leg
  • periodic episodes of weakness in the leg

A doctor will be able to evaluate the potential underlying causes and recommend treatments.

Numbness in the thigh is not always a cause for concern but possible causes include meralgia paresthetica, PAD, and pinched nerves.

Making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or wearing looser clothing to promote blood flow, may help reduce thigh numbness.

If symptoms persist or occur alongside muscle weakness or pain, a person should see their doctor as soon as possible.