External pressure, excessive stress or poor posture can lead to a pinched nerve at the hip, which is manifested by various complaints, especially in the region of the respective thigh. Mostly the nerve is not really pinched but only irritated. The doctor can often make the diagnosis based on the described symptoms.

If the cause of the pinched nerve is detected and repaired, it usually comes to a complete healing. But this can take several weeks and there is a risk that it comes again to a pinching of a nerve at the hip. Depending on the trigger, however, this can be prevented to a certain extent.

The reasons

The possible causes of nerve entrapment at the hip are different and in many cases remain unclear. Often there is not the one trigger but it is an interaction of various factors that leads to the emergence of complaints.

An important risk factor, for example, is obesity. The burden of high body weight promotes the formation of entrapment of a nerve. Lack of exercise and weak core muscles, as is common in people who sit a lot, also increases the risk of pinching a nerve on the hip.
Another risk factor favored by the aforementioned is hip osteoarthritis. The sometimes resulting bony attachments to the joint can cause nerve irritation. However, even young active and healthy people can contract a pinched nerve at the hip. On the one hand it can come to an entrapment due to excessive stress, for example due to strength training. On the other hand, too tight trousers and a belt set too small can exert pressure on the hip joint from the outside, causing the typical discomfort.

Some physicians also believe that inheritance is an increased risk for some people to contract a pinched nerve. However, this is difficult to prove and therefore can not be considered as an independent cause.

Symptoms of a pinched nerve

If a nerve is pinched or irritated, the symptoms are due to an impairment of its function. In the case of neural pathways, a distinction is made in principle between those from the brain to the muscles, who convey commands such as a movement of the leg and those that move from the individual parts of the body to the brain and convey information such as pain or touch.
Depending on what kind of nerve or which parts of a nerve are disturbed by an entrapment, different symptoms can occur.

In a pinched nerve at the hip, there is usually only an impairment of information transfer from the respective leg to the brain. For example, sensations such as tingling, numbness or "running ants" on the thigh occur. In addition, a pinched nerve at the hip can also be very painful. Typically, the character of the pain symptom in nerve irritation is described as burning. A possible entrapment of a nerve on the hip can also be recognized by the fact that the symptoms of a movement in the hip joint dependent and depending on the position of the leg become stronger or weaker or occur, for example, only under stress as when walking.

Symptoms in the thigh

A pinched nerve on the hip is typically characterized by symptoms in the thigh. On the one hand burning pain and on the other hand sensations like numbness or tingling can occur. Since each nerve is responsible for the perception of information such as pain or touch for a limited area of ​​the body, the complaints are typically limited to the particular area.

For the nerve most affected by hocks, the discomfort will be on the outside of the thigh. In addition, the symptoms in the thigh are usually triggered especially when walking. However, even flat lying on a stretched hip can increase the discomfort. In contrast, flexion in the hip often leads to a decrease in symptoms in the thigh.

The diagnosis

The diagnosis of a pinched nerve on the hip of the family doctor or orthopedist is usually based on the described complaints of the patient and a targeted examination of the hip joint and possibly the back. The doctor will ask which symptoms are exactly what, how long they last, in which area they occur, if there was a trigger and what strengthens or relieves them. Usually the typical description of the symptoms is already sufficient to make the diagnosis.

Above all, physical examination excludes evidence of another cause of the condition, which may require further diagnosis and initiation of specific therapy, such as hip arthrosis (wear of the hip joint). If the results of the interview and the examination suggest a pinching of a nerve on the hip as the cause of the discomfort, further diagnostics such as blood sampling or imaging by X-ray or MRI is not sensible, as this would not lead to any consequences for the patient.

The treatment

When treating a pinched nerve at the hip, first of all the question should be clarified whether a cause is recognizable, which led to the emergence of the complaints.

If the patient has overloaded the hip joint, for example during strength training, a training break represents the superficial therapy measure. Was too tight a worn belt or pants too tight the trigger, a change to further clothing represents the essential procedure of the treatment.
However, if the cause is not clear, various measures can be taken to alleviate the discomfort and aid recovery of the nerve. First, avoid excessive loading, but do not rest on bed. Short, regular walks are useful. If the pain is so strong that the movement is hardly possible, a light pain medication can be taken for a few days. Anyone who suffers from discomfort due to the pinched nerve, especially at night, may try to put a pillow underfoot to avoid complete stretching of the hip. Most of the complaints are within a few days. Otherwise, the doctor should be consulted.

In addition to the acute therapy should be counteracted early on a possible recurrence of the symptoms. Overweight people are advised to reduce their body weight, as this is the best way to prevent the recurrence of nerve entrapment at the hip. In addition, it is important, but especially in people with sedentary professional activity, to be physically active regularly, to prevent nerve entrapment or other musculoskeletal disorders too well. Suitable are swimming, cycling or Nordic walking.

The duration

There is no general statement about the duration of discomfort caused by pinching a nerve at the hip. With a clear trigger such as a too tightly worn belt or the pressure of the seat belt during a long drive, the complaints usually already within a few hours after rectification of the cause.

Often, however, the development of the symptoms is less clear or there are several factors that have led to the entrapment of the nerve at the hip. In such cases, the duration of nerve irritation and the resulting discomfort may well be several weeks. It is important to take early action to remedy the complaints.

If there is no improvement or the symptoms get worse and worse, a presentation to the doctor is required at the latest after one week. If the discomfort is ignored in a pinched nerve or suppressed only by the use of painkillers, can threaten a permanent nerve damage.

What is a Meralgia parastetica?

Meralgia paraesthetica is the medical specialty for irritation of a specific nerve in the hip region, which occurs relatively frequently and usually leads to typical symptoms. Affected is the lateral cutaneous nerve, which translates as "dermal nerve of the external thigh".

This nerve runs from the lumbar spine in the area of ​​the pelvis to the thigh. He is protected at several bottlenecks only a little by surrounding tissue, which favors a possible entrapment. In addition to mechanical pressure from the outside, both overweight and excessive strain on the hip joint can cause the typical discomfort. The Meralgia paraesthetica is sometimes referred to as Inguinaltunnel syndrome.

What alternative diseases can be behind it?

Often these are not completely clear in case of a possible entrapment of a nerve at the hip, so that some alternative diseases can be behind it. Since these sometimes require further diagnostics and treatment, delineation through medical consultation and targeted physical examination is important.

A possible alternative illness is a wear of the hip joint (so-called Arthrose ). This usually affects the elderly and there is movement-related pain around the hip joint. Tingling sensations and numbness, as in the trapped nerve, are less typical, but do not rule out osteoarthritis.
In addition, it must always be borne in mind that several complaints may also be present at the same time, which may influence one another if necessary.

Another alternative condition that may be behind the discomfort is lumbar disc herniation. Here, too, as with the pinched nerve on the hip, there may be discomfort and numbness on the thigh. However, often the area in which the complaints occur differs. In addition, a herniated disc can additionally cause a deterioration of muscle strength.

A distinction of the clinical pictures is usually possible by an examination at the doctor even without the use of imaging techniques.

The symptoms of a herniated disc - Find out more here.

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