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.