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Has any one had Meralgia paresthetica (thigh numbness) and how can you prevent it from returning?

Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugese (2018)
#1
In late June on the Camino Portugues I developed Meralgia paresthetica. After completing the Camino it lessened but still comes back after walks of 10 miles or more. Anyone shared this experience and has found ways to prevent future flair ups? Are there exercises that help?

It’s not a sharp pain, rather it’s a numbness in the front of the left thigh and a sensitivity to touch.

Thanks.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#2
In late June on the Camino Portugues I developed Meralgia paresthetica. After completing the Camino it lessened but still comes back after walks of 10 miles or more. Anyone shared this experience and has found ways to prevent future flair ups? Are there exercises that help?

It’s not a sharp pain, rather it’s a numbness in the front of the left thigh and a sensitivity to touch.

Thanks.
During my camino in 2016 the front of both my thighs turned numb and sometimes tingly. It feels a bit like the anaesthesia at the dentist, only in my legs. I couldn't figure out what was causing this, until I met a hopitalera in France who had been a physiotherapist. She immediately asked me how I carried my pack. Sure enough, I carried it wrong. I wore the hipbelt around my hips (snugly strapped), instead of letting it rest on my hips. Subtle difference, but an important one.
Back home I consulted another physiotherapist who told me the first one had been spot on with her diagnosis. Because I wore the hipbelt around my hips, I thereby 'locked' my hipbones and because of that pinched/damaged a nerve in the groin area, resulting in a loss of feeling in my thighs. It has been more than two year ago, and the feeling still hasn't completely returned, although there has been a little improvement. It doesn't hurt though, so I just live with it and haven't felt the need to seek further treatment.
So do check the way you wear your pack! Other than that, see if conservative treatment, like losing weight, belts or pinching clothes might help (it does for 85% of those affected). Last resort can be a blockade of the skin nerve by way of pulsed radiofrequency treatment. They'll usually only do that after a (successful) short term test-blockade with anesthetic fluid and anti-inflammatory medication. In my case this isn't worth the hassle. All the best in figuring out your next step.
 
Last edited:

Jodean

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
22 Sept. to 21 Oct. 2015, Pamplona to Santiago
6-23.04 Porto to Santiago 2018
17.09-30.09 CF 2018
#3
I am happy to have a name for this. Have had it for about 11 years. It gets worse sometimes, but is always there. The worse day was walking into Zubiri from Roncesvalles. When I went to bed, my whole upper thigh was numb, not just the front where it usually is. That has gotten better, but it took a long time. I also get pains in my left groin and figured they must have something to do with each other. That isn't as frequent but it comes when I carry weight or have pants that are too tight around the waist.

What kind of a Dr. do you visit? Chiropracter, Orthopedic, or Neuroligist?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugese (2018)
#5
During my camino in 2016 the front of both my thighs turned numb and sometimes tingly. It feels a bit like the anaesthesia at the dentist, only in my legs. I couldn't figure out what was causing this, until I met a hopitalera in France who had been a physiotherapist. She immediately asked me how I carried my pack. Sure enough, I carried it wrong. I wore the hipbelt around my hips (snugly strapped), instead of letting it rest on my hips. Subtle difference, but an important one.
Back home I consulted another physiotherapist who told me the first one had been spot on with her diagnosis. Because I wore the hipbelt around my hips, I thereby 'locked' my hipbones and because of that pinched/damaged a nerve in the groin area, resulting in a loss of feeling in my thighs. It has been more than two year ago, and the feeling still hasn't completely returned, although there has been a little improvement. It doesn't hurt though, so I just live with it and haven't felt the need to seek further treatment.
So do check the way you wear your pack! Other than that, see if conservative treatment, like removing overweight, belts or pinching clothing might help (it does for 85% of those affected). Last resort can be a blockade of the skin nerve by way of pulsed radiofrequency treatment. They'll usually only do that after a (successful) short term test-blockade with anesthetic fluid and anti-inflammatory medication. In my case this isn't worth the hassle. All the best in figuring out your next step.
Thank you!!! You described my situation perfectly including carrying my pack incorrectly. Only difference with that only my left thigh felt numb. About 1/2 way through the Camimo I started to use a transport service for my pack. Without the service I’m not sure I could have completed the Camimo Portugués. I’m wondering if there are exercises that might help me prepare for the next Camino. Thanks again
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugese (2018)
#6
I am happy to have a name for this. Have had it for about 11 years. It gets worse sometimes, but is always there. The worse day was walking into Zubiri from Roncesvalles. When I went to bed, my whole upper thigh was numb, not just the front where it usually is. That has gotten better, but it took a long time. I also get pains in my left groin and figured they must have something to do with each other. That isn't as frequent but it comes when I carry weight or have pants that are too tight around the waist.

What kind of a Dr. do you visit? Chiropracter, Orthopedic, or Neuroligist?
I started with my GP. He knew exactly what it was. Your situation sounds more painful than mine. Best of luck.
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#7
I’m wondering if there are exercises that might help me prepare for the next Camino.
What I've read about meralgia paresthetica suggests there are a lot of differences in symptoms and severity. I'd get in touch with a good physiotherapist and let him/her design a good exercise program, tailored to your situation.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2017)
#8
The affected nerve (Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve) has an exit point from deeper tissues where it passes through the fascial layer of the leg (think of the PF as an anatomical pantyhose). Compression forces on the exit point or anywhere along the LFC can cause paresthesias or numbness. The aggravation for me is if I carry too much in my front pants pockets while walking - phones, excess coins, etc. The point made earlier about wearing your hip belt too low is also valid. It might also be aggravated by the sheer number of steps that you take in a hiking day. Good luck.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances Oct 2013, Porto, San Salvador & Primitivo 2014. Norte 2016, VdLP & Via Francigena 2017
#9
I also had this happened to my right thigh 3 years ago, and Purky explained the cause perfectly -- the waist belt of my back pack around the hip squeezed the nerve, causing numbness in the thigh skin. I consulted my family doctor after the camino, and was advised to wear loose pant and belts and avoid pressure of belts touching the groin area. So I wear my pant higher up, and I strectched all my underwear so the elastic bands won't cause stress, any try to loose weigh so the big tummy doesn't squeeze the nerve. I tried the following exercises, it helps somewhat but the numbness still returns if belts etc are not loose enough!

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/meralgia-paresthetica-exercises#bridges

My doctor did say that the numbness is a discomfort, and does not affect muscle performance so I could walk the camino again! But more frequent rest during the walk does lessen the numbness. These days when I walk, I tend not to use the waist belt, but I think this might cause injury to my spine as I am turning 70. Also during long walks, I relax and straighten my spine a bit, it seems to reduce the numbness if it comes! I am planning to walk two caminos in 2019! Love to hear from anyone with a true cure for this numbness!

Buen Camino! Bon Chemin!
 

Purky

The Dutch guy
Camino(s) past & future
Breathe properly.
Stay curious.
And walk a camino.
#10
Love to hear from anyone with a true cure for this numbness!
Me too, though I'm not holding my breath. The thing is, it is a bit of an Achilles' heel when it comes to wrestling with my son. Whenever I'm about to win (which is not often these days, as he's 18 and as strong as a bull), he grabs the front of my thigh. It doesn't hurt, but it feels odd and 'distant' so I usually give up at that point.
 

Magwood

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature line for links to daily posts to blogs from many caminos
#11
I am also in the MP club, although I didn’t know it had a name until now. I also experience an indistinct ‘tickle’ above my left knee and spent a couple of weeks brushing that area with the back of my hand because I felt there must be a loose thread or hair causing the sensation.

I assumed it was a nerve problem and am about to see a physiotherapist to get help before my next camino. I shall take my pack at the appropriate weight so that he can advise on how/where to carry it.

I will report back if I learn anything new.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugese (2018)
#12
The affected nerve (Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve) has an exit point from deeper tissues where it passes through the fascial layer of the leg (think of the PF as an anatomical pantyhose). Compression forces on the exit point or anywhere along the LFC can cause paresthesias or numbness. The aggravation for me is if I carry too much in my front pants pockets while walking - phones, excess coins, etc. The point made earlier about wearing your hip belt too low is also valid. It might also be aggravated by the sheer number of steps that you take in a hiking day. Good luck.
Thank you!!! That's very helpful. I had my cell phone in that pocket on the Camino and it bounced against my thigh with every step I took. Now 6 months post Camino, I can't even keep a piece of paper in my left front pocket without feeling the numbness.
 

efdoucette

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011 Camino Frances
2012 Porto
2013 Le Puy
2014 Francigena
2015 - 2018 More ...
#13
Also discovered MP on my first Camino in 2011. I have been walking long distance trails every year plus training almost constantly. My symptoms are the tingling and numbness on the outside thigh, it feels like a bad sunburn to touch. My doctor says it is common among carpenters resulting from wearing the tool belt, makes sense. Some times on return from a Camino it may take months for the feeling to disappear. My doc says it may become life long, depending on the degree of nerve damage I inflict. As I refuse to stop walking I carry on. So my fix: I have purchased a lighter bag, carry less (~15 pounds), and mostly shoulder carry with a loose hip strap, rotating between hip carry and shoulder carry. And my Caminos are a max 10-12 days now (recently finished the Primitivo in 12 days). My 800 km CF days are over, although I'm sure with enough rest days built in I could make it. But there are a lifetime of 5 - 10 day trails available in Europe and beyond.
All the best ...
 

SusanMB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
Camino Portuguese (2014)
Camino Via de la Plata (April/May2016)
Norte (2017)
#14
I also had this happened to my right thigh 3 years ago, and Purky explained the cause perfectly -- the waist belt of my back pack around the hip squeezed the nerve, causing numbness in the thigh skin. I consulted my family doctor after the camino, and was advised to wear loose pant and belts and avoid pressure of belts touching the groin area. So I wear my pant higher up, and I strectched all my underwear so the elastic bands won't cause stress, any try to loose weigh so the big tummy doesn't squeeze the nerve. I tried the following exercises, it helps somewhat but the numbness still returns if belts etc are not loose enough!

https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/meralgia-paresthetica-exercises#bridges

My doctor did say that the numbness is a discomfort, and does not affect muscle performance so I could walk the camino again! But more frequent rest during the walk does lessen the numbness. These days when I walk, I tend not to use the waist belt, but I think this might cause injury to my spine as I am turning 70. Also during long walks, I relax and straighten my spine a bit, it seems to reduce the numbness if it comes! I am planning to walk two caminos in 2019! Love to hear from anyone with a true cure for this numbness!

Buen Camino! Bon Chemin!
Even with health professionals in my family after 15 year It still comes and goes like you I have found that more frequent rests help. Interestingly I don't or to this date have not experienced it whilst on my Camino's I seem to have more episodes when not walking. Guess that shows everyone experiences the numbness of MP in a different way.
 
#15
Hi David,

I am also a long time sufferer. Now that you know that my information comes from one who shares your concerns and malady, here is what I have found;

I am overweight, much more than is healthy. My condition was caused by the extra weight and what is doing to my body, including pinching part(s) of the sciatic nerve causing numbness and palpated pain, (in its extreme, palpation is not needed to experience pain), in the upper left leg, and to a much more minor effect on the upper right leg.

So, the recommendation is obvious, lose the weight. Once gone, the pressure on the nerve should be alleviated. However, as my condition has been over a long period, it may be more than only pressure and may be an unrecoverable injury. As you can understand, my major focus right now is losing that weigh, in every way I can make happen.

Otherwise, I must look to a limited walk of 50 to 100 km before I do enough damage so I must stop walking and return home. I have done this now twice, in Aug / Sep, 2016 and then May, 2018.

It is not the right ways to even attempt to walk the Camino. I am finally convinced and hoping that the lived knowledge provided by us all in this thread will help others get past any denial and accept and address what really needs to be done before the next Camino.
 

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