Are Your Jeans Making You Sick?

They’ve become a fashion staple.

Seen on celebrities from J-Lo to Kate Moss to Russell Brand, skinny jeans seem like they are here to stay for a while.

But once again, being in fashion may come at a cost to your health.

Neurologists are seeing more patients with a condition called meralgia paresthetica, and skinny jeans are being implicated as the cause!

Meralgia paresthetica is a disorder characterized by tingling, numbness, and burning pain in the outer side of the thigh. The disorder is caused by pressure on the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve (LFCN), a nerve that brings sensation to the skin of the thigh.  The nerve is compressed as it exits the pelvis on the outer front side of the thigh.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain which can radiate to other parts of the body, such as knee and buttocks
  • Pain, followed by burning sensation in the affected parts
  • Increased sensitivity to heat in the affected part. As a result, taking warm shower or accidental spill of warm water produces intense pain in the region.
  • Worsening of symptoms after activities, such as walking, that put the thighs under more strain.

Symptoms are increased when wearing tight belts, work belts, or tight-waist clothes. Adding high heeled shoes makes things worse by tilting the pelvis forward and increasing the pressure on the nerve.

Meralgia paresthetica can also be seen in people who have recently gained weight or become pregnant. It can also diagnosed in policemen who wear their guns on their belts and construction workers who wear heavy work belts.

Treatment for meralgia paresthetica is symptomatic and supportive. The majority of cases improve with conservative treatment by wearing looser clothing and losing weight.


So, the bottom line?

Make sure your jeans are not too tight, especially across the waist or hips.

Or be like Jay-Z- who won’t wear them:

“no one on the corner/got a bop like this/don’t wear skinny jeans/’cause my knots won’t fit.”

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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