Treating Survival Belt Syndrome in Preppers

survival belt syndrome

How Your Survival Belt Might Get on Your Nerves!


Survival belts have become more durable and able to carry more gear over the last decade. But improvements in design come at a price. What was once a rare condition is likely to become more common as preppers accessorize and add weight to belt systems. One consequence of this change – for many – will be the development of nerve pain on the outer portion of their thigh. This condition is called Meralgia Paresthetica – or when occurring in preppersSurvival Belt Syndrome.

survival belt

What is Survival Belt Syndrome or Meralgia Paresthetica?

Lateral Femoral Cutaneous Nerve Syndrome or “Tight Jeans Syndrome” is a condition where the nerve supplying your outer thigh with sensation becomes entrapped and produces either painful sharp stabbing sensations, or a continuous dull ache. In preppers, it’s due to restriction or mechanical distortion of the nerve by a heavy and tight survival belt. The resulting pain can range from moderate to severe, and impede travel to your BOL.

Nerve Compression

Signs and Symptoms of Survival Belt Syndrome

The nerve is injured by chronic direct compression and stretching forces causing mechanical damage to the nerve. This causes:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Weakness
  • Muscle wasting (severe cases) in respective anatomical areas

Sometimes called Meralgia Paresthetica, and often occurring in people wearing tight fitting jeans – especially when they have their keys in their pocket – the syndrome causes chronic and sometimes unrelenting pain down the outside portion of the thigh.

survival belt syndrome


Testing for Survival Belt Syndrome

Meralgia Paresthetica

If tapping over the nerve reproduces the persons symptoms, then you’ve found the problem. But if you have survival belt syndrome, what can you do about it? And will it come back?

It turns out that it can be just as difficult to get rid of as carpal tunnel syndrome. Yet at other times it’s a one time event. There seems to be no clear predictor of who will have recurrent symptoms and who won’t. But unlike carpal tunnel syndrome – where you can wear a cock up wrist splint to treat the symptoms – no such device exists for survival belt syndrome.

Treatment of Survival Belt Syndrome

survival belt syndrome

Listed above are the standard treatments, but some obviously wont be available. Instead, you’ll want to abandon thoughts of wearing your survival belt around your waist for several weeks. But even then, there is no guarantee the condition won’t return. This can occur within minutes to hours, or even after a couple of weeks. So you’ll have to explore other options, which include putting your equipment in your BOB, or wearing your belt like Chewbacca: (The Chewbacca technique works well as a quick fix).

Survival Belt

Here is a great quick video on survival belt syndrome, and what to look for if you, or someone in your group, starts having pain on the outside of their thigh:

Take Home Message:  Continuous wearing of a heavy survival belt is likely to lead to compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. You can test to see if that is the source of someones lateral thigh pain by tapping over the nerve and seeing if it reproduces their symptoms. If it does, treat them with ibuprofen and discontinue wearing the belt for 6-8 weeks.  

If you’d like to know more about injuries and illness specific to preppers, click on the book image below… and please share if you found this post helpful!

Survival Medicine Book


Keywords: survival belt, survival medicine, meralgia paresthetica, survival belt syndrome, preppers, lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, BOB, BOL, survival.


  • Bill

    I have found that “Perry” style suspenders that hook (not clamp) on your belt does a lot in helping place the belt weight on your shoulders and is compatible with backpacks.

  • Pingback: Survival belt sydrome? - M14 Forum

  • That’s probably the only way to solve that problem long term. Because I don’t think I’d be taking mine off very often during an episode of the world gone wild. I’ll look into those. Thank you!

  • Robert Lawrence

    attach a shoulder strap system to your belt. And, you can wear your pack over it.
    Problem solved.

Leave a Reply