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Femoral nerve dysfunction
Alternative namesNeuropathy - femoral nerve
DefinitionFemoral nerve dysfunction is a loss of movement or sensation in the leg ( peripheral neuropathy ) caused by damage to the femoral nerve.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The femoral nerve is located in the leg and supplies the muscles that help straighten the leg. It supplies sensation to the front of the thigh and part of the lower leg.
The usual causes are direct trauma, prolonged pressure on the nerve, and compression of the nerve by nearby body structures or pathologic structures (such as a tumor ). Prolonged pressure may be complicated by ischemia (lack of oxygen from decreased blood flow) in the area.
Entrapment involves pressure on the nerve where it passes through a narrow structure. The damage includes destruction of the myelin sheath of the nerve or destruction of part of the nerve cell (the axon). This damage slows or prevents passage of impulses through the nerve.
One common risk factor is lying in the "lithotomy" position (on the back with thighs and legs flexed) during surgery or diagnostic procedures. In some cases, no detectable cause can be identified.
Signs and testsA neuromuscular examination of the legs indicates femoral nerve dysfunction. There may be weakness on straightening the knee or bending at the hip. Sensation changes are located on the front upper thigh and inner calf. The knee jerk reflex may be abnormal. There may be atrophy (loss of muscle mass) of the quadriceps muscles of the front of the thigh.
Tests that reveal femoral nerve dysfunction may include:
Treatment is aimed at increasing mobility and independence. The cause of the damage should be identified and treated if necessary. In some cases, no treatment is required and recovery is spontaneous.
Expectations (prognosis)If the cause of the femoral nerve dysfunction can be identified and successfully treated, there is a possibility of full recovery. In some cases, there may be partial or complete loss of movement or sensation resulting in some degreeof disability. Nerve pain may be quite uncomfortable and persist for a long period of time. Trauma to the femoral area may also injure the femoral artery, which can cause fatal hemorrhage.
ComplicationsA complication is a recurrent or an unnoticed injury to the leg.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms of femoral nerve dysfunction develop.
PreventionThe prevention is variable depending on the cause of the nerve damage.
Update Date: 3/2/2004A.D.A.M. editorial. Elaine T. Kiriakopoulos, M.D., M.Sc., Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (5/08/2003).
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT