Femoral nerve dysfunction
Femoral nerve dysfunction is a loss of movement or sensation in parts of the legs due to damage to the femoral nerve.
Neuropathy - femoral nerve; Femoral neuropathy
The femoral nerve is located in the pelvis and goes down the front of the leg. It helps the muscles move the hip and straighten the leg. It provides feeling (sensation) to the front of the thigh and part of the lower leg.
A nerve is made up of many fibers, called axons, surrounded by insulation, called the myelin sheath.
Damage to any one nerve, such as the femoral nerve, is called mononeuropathy. Mononeuropathy usually means there is a local cause of damage to a single nerve. Disorders that involve the entire body (systemic disorders) can also cause isolated nerve damage to one nerve at a time (such as occurs with mononeuritis multiplex).
More common causes of femoral nerve dysfunction are:
The femoral nerve can also be damaged from any of the following:
Symptoms may include any of the following:
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. This will include an exam of the nerves and muscles in your legs.
The exam may show that you have:
Tests that may be done include:
Your provider may order additional tests, depending on your medical history and symptoms. Tests may include blood tests, x-rays, and other imaging tests.
Your provider will try to identify and treat the cause of the nerve damage. You'll be treated for any medical problems (such as diabetes or bleeding in the pelvis) that may be causing the nerve damage. In some cases, the nerve will heal with treatment of the underlying medical problem.
Other treatments may include:
In some cases, no treatment is needed and you'll recover on your own. If so, any treatment, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, is aimed at increasing mobility, maintaining muscle strength, and independence while you recover. Braces or splints may be prescribed to help in walking.
If the cause of the femoral nerve dysfunction can be identified and successfully treated, it is possible to recover fully. In some cases, there may be partial or complete loss of movement or sensation, resulting in some degree of permanent disability.
Nerve pain may be uncomfortable and can continue for a long time. Injury to the femoral area may also injure the femoral artery or vein, which can cause bleeding and other problems.
Complications that may result include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you develop symptoms of femoral nerve dysfunction.
Clinchot DM, Craig EJ. Femoral neuropathy. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Pain, and Rehabilitation. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 54.
Katirji B. Disorders of peripheral nerves. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 107.
Review Date: 9/17/2019
Reviewed By: Alireza Minagar, MD, MBA, Professor, Department of Neurology, LSU Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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