Pain in outer thigh is experienced by many people especially the athletes. It is a symptom of injury or some underlying medical conditions.
What is Outer Thigh Pain?
Outer thigh pain is a clinical symptom of different medical conditions and is mainly caused due to nerve problems. It can occur as anterior, posterior (rear) or as a lateral thigh pain. The person experiences this pain while walking, climbing and excessive standing, which causes discomfort and prevents the person from participating in different activities. It is necessary to seek medical attention for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment in case of the outer thigh pain.
Outer thigh pain is more common in women than in men and occurs above the age of 50 years. However, it can occur in young people too, especially common among the runners.
What Causes Outer Thigh Pain?
Outer thigh pain can be attributed to numerous factors and conditions such as:
- Meralgia Paraesthetica: Pain in the outer thigh can be caused due to meralgia paresthetica. This condition is also called as burning feet sensation and occurs when the lateral nerve is compressed due to trauma caused by surgery. It causes burning and tingling sensation in the upper part of the thigh.
- Outer Thigh Pain Caused Due to Muscle-Related Injury: Muscle-related injuries are a common cause of pain in the outer thigh. A muscle strain can occur quickly if the leg muscles are overstretched, or develop gradually from the overuse or weakness. Muscle strains typically cause pain that increases on standing on the affected leg.
- Trochanteric Bursitis: The greater trochanter is a part of the femur bone. The trochanteric bursa is a small fluid-filled sac that serves both as a cushion and a lubricant between the bone and the illotibial (IT) band. If there is problem with the bursa sacs present between muscles in the hip, groin and thigh region due to prolonged pressure, repeated twisting or rapid joint movements, it leads to the outer thigh pain. The pain is commonly seen in the case of runners. The bursa undergoes mini trauma in form of inflammation and causes painful symptoms.
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome: Inflammation of the iliotibial band causes Iliotibial band syndrome or ITBS, which leads to the pain in the outer area of the knee. There are other symptoms such as swelling, discomfort and pain which spreads to the outer thigh area.
- Muscle Contusion: It is common among athletes who play football or rugby. This can happen in the outer thigh area as well. The symptoms shown are pain, swelling, tenderness and discoloration of the skin of the outer thigh.
- Other Causes of Outer Thigh Pain: The other causes for outer thigh pain include:
- Arthritis: Inflammation of the joints where the lubricant between the bones wears off. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis which leads to outer thigh pain and loss of mobility.
- Sciatica: It is the problem, which arises due to compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back which supplies to the outer thigh region. It is caused due to muscular imbalance, injury or a slipped disc. This condition is severe and disabling pain in the posterior outer thigh region is experienced. Similarly, sciatica also causes anterior thigh pain when it occurs due to the compression of the third lumbar nerve.
- Hip Replacement: Both hip and knee replacement can lead to outer thigh pain which gradually decreases within few days as the body starts healing.
- Hamstring Strain: This type of pain at the back of the thigh appears suddenly with exertion.
Treatment of Outer Thigh Pain
The pain in outer thigh region can be self-limiting and may go on its own. However, it does take time for the outer thigh pain to ease. Here are some of the ways which helps in relieving the outer thigh pain:
- Decreasing the activities of running or excessive walking can help relieve outer thigh pain
- Taking paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will reduce outer thigh pain
- Losing weight in case of the obese person experiencing outer thigh pain
- Consulting a physiotherapist who will examine the problem and suggests exercises to reduce the pain in the outer thigh region
- Injections of steroid and local anaesthetic to alleviate the pain
- In case of Meralgia paraesthetica, operation to decompress the nerve is used as a management option.
Precaution for Outer Thigh Pain
The pain in the outer thigh region can be prevented in some conditions:
- After performing heavy physical activities, one should take rest. One should also avoid performing excessive physical activities.
- Performing exercises such as stretching and massage is helpful
- Ice and heat treatment has proven to be beneficial for treating outer thigh pain
- Pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may help in easing mild pain in the outer thigh.
Outer thigh pain occurs in people who do intense physical activities such as the athletes and power-lifters. It is a clinical symptom of different medical conditions. When mild, it can be treated with some home care methods. However, if it is becomes intense, one needs to consult a doctor and a physiotherapist to get rid of outer thigh pain.