If you spill coffee that’s warm but not scalding hot on your thigh, you’ll feel a sudden sensation of warmth. If you notice this same sensation when no warm beverages are involved, you may be wondering what’s causing it. Some sensations of this nature are related to nerve irritation. However, inflammation associated with muscle and joint pain can also be the source of this type of discomfort. Here’s a closer look at what may be causing warm sensations in your thigh.
Also called radiculopathy, radiating nerve pain is so named because it originates from a nearby source even though the resulting discomfort is felt elsewhere, such as in the thigh area. If nerve roots around your L1–L4 vertebrae are affected, warm sensations in your thigh may be accompanied by:
• Outer thigh pain
• Outer/inner thigh numbness
• General weakness in the same area
If your only symptom is a warm sensation in your thigh, it could be an early sign of a problem that could eventually be accompanied by pain and other bothersome symptoms. The only way to know for sure what’s going on is to see your doctor. If a spine-related source is suspected, you may be referred to a Los Angeles spine surgeon for additional testing and treatment suggestions.
If the L4 to S1 vertebrae are affected in your lower back area, warm sensations in your thigh may be accompanied by radiating pain felt along the back of your thigh and down your leg to your foot. This is known as sciatica if the irritated nerve is your sciatic nerve, which begins in the lower back and extends downward. Possible sources of this type of nerve compression include:
• Herniated discs in the lower back
• Worn or damaged spinal structures
• Spinal tumors
If the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is irritated or compressed, it’s a form of nerve damage known as meralgia paresthetica. This nerve begins in the spinal cord between the L2 and L3 levels and branches off into part of the thigh. This type of nerve-related pain is sometimes aggravated by conditions such as diabetes. It can also be triggered by:
• Tight clothing or garments
• Trauma to the lower back/hip area
• Muscle spasms originating around the hips
• Severe abdominal fat
• Lead poisoning
Symptoms related to meralgia paresthetica can be similar to what’s experienced with sciatica. Thigh-related discomfort may extend to your knee or on down to your foot.
Warmth or aches felt in the side of the hip or thigh may be experienced if the source of your discomfort is greater trochanteric pain syndrome (GTPS). Related pain is likely to occur intermittently. Discomfort might extend to your buttocks and become more distracting when you’re active or lying down. Additional symptoms may include:
• Chronic tendon pain (tendinopathy)
• Pain or tenderness related to the slippage of muscles or tendons over the thigh bone (external snapping hip)
• Inflamed fluid-filled cavities on the side of the hips (trochanteric bursitis)
Warm sensations in the thigh aren’t always related to something going on with the spine. For instance, hip osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear condition that can produce pain, hip stiffness, and warm sensations that become more noticeable when sitting for long periods or becoming active.
If you’re having warm sensations in your thigh and you think you might have sciatica or another spinal condition, get in touch with The Spine Institute right away. We specialize in a wide array of spinal procedures, from fusion surgery to mobi-c disc replacement. Los Angeles patients place their trust in Dr. Hyun Bae for good reason. Call 310-828-7757 today to take the first steps toward living a pain-free life.