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Femoral nerve damage, also referred to as femoral nerve dysfunction or neuropathy, can occur from an injury or prolonged compression. Typically, damage and dysfunction of the femoral nerve are associated with the leg and are characterized by a disruption of sensation in the front of the thigh and lower leg. This nerve is also involved in muscle control needed to straighten the leg. However, since the femoral nerve runs from the torso through the thigh with several branches extending throughout these locations, significant trauma to almost any part of the body can result in systemic femoral nerve damage.
Direct injury aside, femoral nerve damage can be caused by a number of other factors. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can damage this nerve due to impaired metabolic functioning. In fact, expansive neuropathy in the legs and feet of diabetics is quite common. Other mediating factors include fracturing the pelvis, internal bleeding, or oxygen deprivation to the nerve due to becoming encased in a tumor or being subjected to pressure by the presence of a tumor.
Symptoms of femoral nerve damage range from a feeling of general weakness in the leg to prickly sensations. It may sometimes be difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time. Often, patients describe feeling as though the knee simply collapses, especially when attempting to use stairs. Odd feelings experienced in the leg may include a tingling or burning sensation. However, while these sensations may produce some discomfort, localized pain is not a typical symptom.
Diagnosis of femoral nerve damage starts with a complete physical examination, including observing knee jerk response and an assessment of the ability to straighten and bend the leg. If nerve damage is suspected, then nerve conduction tests and various neurological examinations will likely follow. It is also possible that imaging tests may be conducted to rule out obstruction of the nerve by a tumor or other growth. In addition, muscle strength may be tested by using a procedure known as electromyography.
A treatment plan is designed according to the underlying cause of the nerve damage. For instance, in the case of diabetes-related degenerative nerve damage, increased measures to control glucose resistance and utilization may be needed. On the other hand, if tumors are causing compression on the femoral nerve, then surgery may be indicated. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be given to increase mobility. However, due to the risks associated with corticosteroids, many physicians may elect to prescribe physical therapy and/or orthopedic corrective devices instead.
Experiencing any of the symptoms of femoral nerve damage outlined above warrants a consultation with a health care practitioner right away. In most cases, the patient can expect a full recovery, if treated in a timely manner. Ignoring symptoms, however, may possibly result in a permanent injury and disability.