Causes of Nerve Pain in the Hip & Leg

Many conditions can cause nerve pain in the hip and leg. According to MedlinePlus, nerve pain, also known as neuralgia, is pain that follows the path of a nerve 1. Although neuralgia can occur in people of all ages, older individuals are more likely to develop this condition. The causes of nerve pain are diverse and sometimes multifaceted. Nerve-related pain is often sharp and shock-like, although sensations of deep, aching or burning pain are also possible.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Spinal Canal Stenosis

Spinal canal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal, can cause nerve pain in the hip and leg 2. According to, degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, trauma and general wear and tear on the bones and joints of the lumbar spine or lower back can all cause a narrowing of the spinal canal 2. The lumbar spinal canal is the hole or channel through which nerves to the lower extremities pass. Over time, the bone and tissues around the canal can grow inward, decreasing the amount of space in what is already a narrow passageway. If the nerves that run through the canal are compressed or irritated, pain can arise in the back, hip and leg. Common signs and symptoms associated with lumbar spinal canal stenosis include pain and numbness throughout the lower extremity on one or both sides of the body, leg weakness and, in severe cases, changes in bowel and bladder function 2.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome can cause nerve pain in the hip and leg 3. Spine Universe states that the piriformis muscle runs from the sacrum, or the base of the spine, to the bony prominence on the upper part of the femur or thigh bone 3. The piriformis muscle is a flat, pear-shaped muscle that helps turn the thigh outward. It's an important muscle for sports activities, stabilizing the hips and keeping a person upright. In some individuals, the piriformis suffers a repetitive motion injury, in which it becomes tight. The sciatic nerve runs directly underneath the piriformis or through it, which means that a tight piriformis muscle can compress or irritate the nerve and cause nerve-related pain throughout the affected-side hip and leg. Other common signs and symptoms associated with piriformis syndrome include pain in and around the outer hip bone and pain in the center of the involved-side buttocks 3.

Meralgia Paresthetica

Meralgia paresthetica can cause nerve pain and abnormal sensations in the hip and leg. According to, meralgia paresthetica is a condition that causes burning pain, numbness and tingling in the outer part of the hip or thigh. Meralgia paresthetica is caused by compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, which supplies sensation to the skin of the upper leg. states that, in most cases, meralgia paresthetica responds well to conservative care methods, such as:

  • wearing looser clothing
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • modifying activities appropriately

In severe cases, a qualified health care professional may recommend other treatment options to relieve meralgia paresthetica-related pain or discomfort.