Identifying a Pinched Femoral Nerve

June 09, 2019

Nerves of the lower back
Jonathan Thompson

Unfortunately, there are many aches and pains that you may encounter on a daily basis as you go through your routine. These can occur for a number of reasons and may impact your life in a variety of ways. One common issue that many people deal with has to do with a pinched femoral nerve, as called femoral impingement or entrapment. Characterized by numbness and nerve pain in the groin, this particular issue may also bear similarities to other nerve conditions. So, how can you know whether you're dealing with a pinched femoral nerve or another problem? What causes this condition, and how can you stay productive at the office despite the pain it creates?

Causes and Symptoms

In order to fully understand the causes and symptoms of a pinched femoral nerve, it's important to first be familiar with the general function and structure of this nerve. Originating in the lumbar spine, the large femoral nerve runs down through your hip, innervates the majority of your thigh and then passes down the inner edge of your calves before ending at your big toe. Over its course, the femoral nerve supports both movement and sensation to your hips, knees and — to a smaller extent — your foot and ankle. Logically, any injury or compression to this nerve can impact multiple aspects of your legs. This can occur when any of the tissue or structures that surround the nerve become damaged or inflamed.

If the femoral nerve is damaged or otherwise inhibited, the portions of your leg it supplies may experience pain, numbness or weakness to varying degrees. Unfortunately, correctly identifying your femoral nerve as the source of the problem can be a challenge. Several other large nerves, including the sciatic, all follow similar courses. The unique placement of the femoral nerve, however, means that it can usually be distinguished by pain and numbness in the front and inner portion of the thigh. Typically, this symptom is relieved when the hip is flexed and moved outward.

Treatment

Exactly how your doctor goes about treating nerve pain in the groin and other areas affected by the pinched femoral nerve will depend on the underlying cause. For example, a fractured bone may be pinching the nerve. Enabling the bone to heal correctly and minimizing inflammation would be the best course of action. It's also important to note that diabetes can contribute to femoral nerve pain. Managing that condition effectively can reduce problems surrounding the femoral nerve. In other situations, the pain may disappear on its own. In the meantime, though, what can you do to keep up with the demands on your life and job?

As mentioned, anti-inflammatory treatments and medications can often be useful. It's also important to audit your routine and look for any habits that may be contributing for the problem. Sitting for long periods, for example, can cause muscular imbalances in your back and hips. As a result, the femoral nerve may become inflamed and irritated. Try to take activity breaks throughout the work day — walking or even stretching — to reduce any pressure on your legs. You may also try a standing desk to take pressure off the affected joint. If you do decide to take this approach, though, it's best to avoid standing all day. Rather, use this as a way to break up the amount of time you spend in the chair.

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