Femoral nerve pain

by Judy
(Moseley, VA)

Femoral nerve pain in the upper thigh

My left thigh pain has gotten progressively worse and more frequent during the last 4 years. The radiating sharp pain travels across the left groin, down the front of my thigh and on the sides of my knee. The pain is disabling at times, causing me to limp and avoid walking.

I also have moderate pain in my lower back and left hip. After sitting for awhile, I experience stiffness and pain in my thigh when I stand which lessens after movement.

I have had a CT myelogram and an MRI of the spine, which showed moderate stenosis and a slipping disk as well as scoliosis in the lumbar spine (L2-6). Epidural injections have given little relief. The injection in the L2-3 area gave me complete relief for a week or so.

Nerve conduction tests show that I have femoral nerve damage. My knee does not buckle yet. My doctors just prescribe pills and send me on my way. I really would like to know the cause of the damage before it gets severe.

Hello Judy,
Mmm, it already is severe, I'm afraid. It's become chronic, four years is a long time and it is affecting sitting and walking, and obviously making you miserable. Chronic pain does that.

You make no mention of exercises. Frankly, choosing the right exercises for you, and doing them properly and correctly in difficult cases like yours usually needs professional help. But you can make a start at lower back exercises if you're willing to try for yourself.

Chronic nerve pain can be very disabling. I don't know the degree of degeneration in your back, but until you've seen a local chiropractor, you won't know whether chiro will help you or not. I often find that McManus traction helps a lot.

Sitting often aggravates the condition, especially in low chairs and couches. Choose your chairs carefully, and generally sit less.

One small thought: Lie on your back, and pull your knee to your chest, and then to the opposite shoulder. Compare with the right leg. Is the left much more stiff and painful in the hip/groin? An arthritic hip also causes groin and pain that radiates to the front of the thigh.

Gather your scans, and start talking to friends and neighbours and your doctor, and get the name of a local chiro. This is a condition I treat on a daily basis. Whilst you may not get a "cure" would you be happy if it was 50-80% less painful?

Good luck, keep us abreast of developments.

Dr B

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