What causes thigh burning sensation?

Thigh burning sensation can be caused by nerve or skin damage in the thighs and surrounding tissues. Burns from chemicals and extreme heat, as well as exposure to poisonous substances, may damage the nerves in the skin, resulting in thigh burning sensation.

Damage to the peripheral nerves (peripheral neuropathy) can also cause a sensation of burning in your thighs. Peripheral neuropathy may be due to specific diseases or conditions, such as diabetes or alcoholism, that can affect nerve health, or it may have no known cause.

Physical causes of thigh burning sensation

Thigh burning sensation may be due to physical causes including:

  • Burns, including sunburn
  • Exposure to cold
  • Exposure to toxins or poisons
  • Injury
  • Peripheral neuropathy (disorder that causes dysfunction of nerves that lie outside your brain and spinal cord)
  • Pressure on nerve

Diseases or disorders causing thigh burning sensation

A number of diseases can cause thigh burning sensation including:

  • Alcoholic neuropathy (nerve damage associated with excessive alcohol consumption)
  • Cancer
  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes)
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome (autoimmune nerve disorder)
  • Meralgia paresthetica (pain in outer thigh due to nerve compression)
  • Multiple sclerosis (disease that affects the brain and spinal cord causing weakness, coordination, balance difficulties, and other problems)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation)
  • Shingles (reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which remains in the body in an inactive state following chickenpox)
  • Spinal stenosis, disc disease, or other conditions of the spine
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Serious or life-threatening causes of thigh burning sensation

In some cases, thigh burning sensation may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. These include:

  • Stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (temporary stroke-like symptoms that may be a warning sign of an impending stroke)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of thigh burning sensation

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your thigh burning sensation including:

  • How long have you felt the burning sensation in your thigh?
  • Where do you feel the burning sensation?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of thigh burning sensation?

Because thigh burning sensation can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Brain damage (if the thigh burning sensation is due to stroke)
  • Loss of limb
  • Paralysis
  • Permanent nerve damage


  1. NINDS paresthesia information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/paresthesia/paresthesia.htm.
  2. Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm.
  3. NINDS meralgia paresthetica information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/meralgia_paresthetica/meralgia_paresthetica.htm. Accessed September 18, 2013.
  4. Burning thigh pain (meralgia paresthetica). AAOS: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00340. Accessed September 18, 2013.

What is thigh burning sensation?

Thigh burning sensation can result from an injury to the thigh or exposure to extreme temperatures. Another possible cause of thigh burning sensation is meralgia paresthetica, which is a disorder caused by compression of a nerve running to the outer thigh, the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Burning and numbness in the thigh or legs can also be caused by a number of chronic conditions that aff... Read more about thigh burning sensationintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with thigh burning sensation?

Thigh burning sensation may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Thigh symptoms that may occur along with thigh burning sensation

Thigh burning sensation may accompany other symptoms affecting the thigh including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves