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What is the Genitofemoral Nerve?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The genitofemoral nerve is a nerve which arises from the lumbar plexus, a group of nerves which originate in the lower area of the spine. Also known as the genito-femoral nerve, this nerve splits off into two sections which innervate the upper inner thigh and genital regions. Damage to this nerve can occasionally occur as a complication of surgery or trauma, and it can also be damaged by degenerative diseases which attack the nervous system.

This nerve originates in the first and second lumbar nerves, passing over the psoas major before splitting into two branches which innervate different areas. One branch, the femoral branch, heads to the femoral triangle in the upper inner thigh. The genital branch innervates the genital area, as one might surmise from the name.

One problem which can occur with the genitofemoral nerve is entrapment. Genitofemoral nerve entrapment happens as a complication of surgery in most cases. When the patient wakes up, she or he experiences loss of sensation caused by pinching of the nerve. This condition must often be treated with surgery to free the nerve from the entrapment and restore sensation for the patient. The nerve can also be damaged or even severed in surgery and as a result of trauma, causing loss of sensation or problems such as stabbing pain or tingling caused by misfirings of the nerve.

Genitofemoral neuropathy occurs when the nerve is damaged, causing pain and other unpleasant or unexpected sensations in the pelvic area. This can occur after trauma or surgery, or when the nerve is damaged by conditions such as diabetes which damage the nervous system. The damage may not be reversible, and various techniques can be used to manage the unexpected sensations and pain to keep the patient more comfortable. A neurologist must examine the patient to confirm genitofemoral nerve involvement and to determine the extent of the damage.

One option for pain management in this region is a genitofemoral nerve block, in which anesthetic agents are injected into the nerve so that it cannot carry sensations. Nerve blocks are usually carried out by anesthesiologists, as they have the training necessary to place the anesthetic agent and to confirm that it is in the right place. Other options can include electrical stimulation and oral pain medications. Pain management techniques can be developed by a neurologist and patient together on the basis of the level of pain and which methods seem to be most effective.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By lana345 — On Mar 05, 2021

I really wish there was more info on this part in the article. Copy/pasted below.

"Genitofemoral neuropathy occurs when the nerve is damaged, causing pain and other unpleasant or unexpected sensations in the pelvic area."

Specifically more on describing the 'unpleasant or unexpected sensations'. I wish much more was said about these.

Anyway, I'm reading and responding to this some years since the last post. Maybe I'll find more info soon. Hang in there all of us suffering this type of pain. Yikes, not once in my life have I even heard of anyone describing this particular pain.

By anon340408 — On Jul 02, 2013

I had this nerve block myself today and can say when he put pressure on the area before the injection, I was crying like a baby. Of course now, I have had significant relief.

Mine was due to an experimental hip scope procedure for an impingement, where they have five different entry points. Your leg is put into traction and he explained that they have to jam this thing into your genital area, where it stays the duration of the surgery. Mine lasted almost six hours. I have had all three nerve branches blocked to this point trying to isolate it. If you have the means to get diagnosed, do it. It has changed my life.

By anon154265 — On Feb 20, 2011

My genitofemoral nerve (genital branch) as well as another nerve (femoral, cutaneous, something or other) was removed while a surgeon removed a retroperitoneal mass that was thought to be cancer (turned out to be benign). I am concerned about long term impact of this. Will the sensations lesson over time?

By pleats — On Sep 09, 2010

@copperpipe -- When my husband injured a nerve in his neck, they were able to inject a nerve block to give him some pain relief.

Of course, your wife's condition may be different, but I don't see why they couldn't do the same thing for her.

I would think that a nerve block in the leg would be much less dangerous than a nerve block in the neck.

Best wishes.

By CopperPipe — On Sep 09, 2010

My wife had been having terrible pelvic nerve pain as a result of her diabetes. For a while we thought it was stemming from her obturator nerve, but now it's looking like it's the iliac fascia or genitorfemoral nerve.

I was wondering, is there any way that we can block the nerve, to give her some relief from the pain? She says its pretty well constant now, and I'd love to be able to do something for her.

Does anybody know if we can do something like that?

By TunaLine — On Sep 09, 2010

That sounds pretty scary. I think my biology teacher must have skipped over the genitofemoral nerve in anatomy class.

Is it common for these things to be damaged during surgery? Wouldn't surgeons be specially trained to watch out for such things. All we ever learned about were the lateral femoral cutaneous nerves (I remember because the teacher made us an anagram).

Now I never want to get surgery in my pelvic area...well, not that I ever really wanted to, but now I especially don't want to.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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