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  • Ben Heathcote

Meralgia Paresthetica: Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Meralgia Paresthetica is a relatively uncommon condition that affects the sensory nerve in the thigh, leading to symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling in the outer part of the thigh. This condition can be quite uncomfortable and affect one's daily activities. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of Meralgia Paresthetica, including its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options.

Causes: The primary cause of Meralgia Paresthetica is compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Several factors can contribute to this compression, including:

  • Obesity or weight gain: Excess weight can put pressure on the nerve.

  • Tight clothing: Wearing tight belts or clothing that constricts the waist area may contribute to nerve compression.

  • Pregnancy: The increased weight and hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to compression of the nerve.

  • Certain occupations or activities: Jobs or activities that involve prolonged standing, repetitive hip movements, or trauma to the hip region may increase the risk.

Symptoms: The most common symptoms of Meralgia Paresthetica include:

  • Pain or burning sensation in the outer thigh.

  • Numbness or tingling in the affected area.

  • Increased sensitivity to touch or pressure.

  • Worsening discomfort after prolonged standing or walking.

  • Some individuals may experience mild weakness in the affected leg.

Diagnosis: To diagnose Meralgia Paresthetica, a healthcare professional will review your medical history, conduct a physical examination, and may perform additional tests. These may include nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), or imaging tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

Treatment Options: Treatment for Meralgia Paresthetica aims to relieve symptoms and address the underlying cause. Common treatment options include:

  • Conservative approaches: These may include wearing loose clothing, avoiding activities that aggravate symptoms, and weight loss if necessary.

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or medications that target nerve pain (such as anticonvulsants or tricyclic antidepressants) may be prescribed.

  • Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises can help alleviate symptoms and improve nerve function.

  • Injections: Corticosteroid injections into the affected area may provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation.

  • Surgical intervention: In rare cases where conservative measures fail, surgery may be recommended to decompress the nerve.

Meralgia Paresthetica, though not widely known, can cause discomfort and impact daily life. Recognizing the symptoms and understanding the causes is crucial for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If you suspect you may have Meralgia Paresthetica, consult with a healthcare professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a personalised treatment plan to help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice, may offer potential benefits for individuals diagnosed with Meralgia Paresthetica. While there is limited published research specifically focusing on acupuncture for this condition, the principles and mechanisms of acupuncture make it a potential complementary treatment option.

Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on the body to restore the flow of energy, known as Qi, and promote balance within the body's systems. By inserting thin needles into specific acupuncture points, acupuncturists aim to regulate the flow of Qi, which may have a positive effect on nerve function and reduce pain and discomfort associated with Meralgia Paresthetica.

Is Acupuncture good for Meralgia Paresthetica?

In the research titled "Clinical effectiveness of electroacupuncture in meralgia paresthetica" by Rosemary E. Alexander, published on PubMed, a total of 10 patients diagnosed with Meralgia Paresthetica were treated using acupuncture.

Alexander's case series explored the application of acupuncture in these 10 patients with Meralgia Paresthetica. The treatment focused on specific acupuncture points associated with nerve regulation and pain management.

The research reported positive outcomes in the majority of the patients. Most patients experienced reductions in pain intensity, improvement in sensory disturbances, and enhanced physical functioning following acupuncture treatment. The treatment was generally well-tolerated, and no significant adverse effects were reported.

It is important to note that while this case series provides encouraging results, it still involves a relatively small sample size and lacks a control group. Further research, including larger-scale randomised controlled trials, is necessary to confirm the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture for Meralgia Paresthetica.

If you would like to find out more about acupuncture and its benefits or book in for your first acupuncture treatment please Contact Us today. Our practitioners are happy to answer any questions you have regarding acupuncture or any other Chinese medicine related questions.



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