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Causes and Symptoms of Pudendal Neuralgia
Pudendal Neuralgia is a condition that causes a person to experience chronic discomfort, numbness or pain in the pelvic region. The condition occurs when the pudendal nerve becomes damaged for one reason or another.
As a result of the nerve damage, the person will have a hard time when they sit, go to the bathroom or have sex. The pain and discomfort will come and go, but because pudendal neuralgia is a chronic condition, the pain will always return unless it is managed with proper treatment.
How does one get pudendal neuralgia?
The pudendal nerve runs from the muscles in the buttocks to the perineum (the area between the anus and the genitals). One of its main jobs is to affect the motor function of pelvic muscles like the urethral and anal sphincters, which are the muscles used to control the bladder and the bowel.
Another of its functions is to provide sensations for the external organs in the pelvic area. Damage or injury to the pudendal nerve happens in a number of ways:
- An infection can cause inflammation of the nerve. In turn, the inflammation can damage the nerve
- An injury is a common cause of pudendal nerve damage. It can occur during childbirth or surgery
- It can also happen as a result of the trauma and pressure caused by excessive use of a bicycle, a condition known as cyclist’s syndrome. When a person spends too much time sitting on a bicycle seat, they cause the tissue around the pudendal nerve to swell up and compress the nerve
- A tumor can also compress the nerve
A person that suffers from pudendal neuralgia will feel discomfort in the perineum, the genitals, the buttocks or even the legs. They will experience one or more of the symptoms below:
- Pain when sitting: Usually the pain goes away when the person stands and takes pressure off the pelvic area
- Numbness and pins and needles in the pelvic area: Much like a person would feel if their limb fell asleep
- In extreme cases, a person may have incontinence of the bladder and bowel. In less severe cases, the person will need to go to the bathroom urgently and frequently
- Pain in the genitals and sexual dysfunction
- Burning, cold or sharp pain in the pelvic muscles and external organs
- A person may feel like they have a swollen pelvic region
Pudendal neuralgia shares some symptoms with conditions like urinary tract infections or an enlarged prostate. This means that a physician needs to do some tests to confirm the illness. Tests like:
- Motor latency tests for the pudendal nerve – The test measures the reaction time and overall function of the motor nerves that are part of the pudendal nerve. If the nerves are found to be slow or unresponsive, then a doctor will take the result to be a sign of the illness
- Pudendal nerve block test – A doctor will block the nerve to see whether the patient will stop experiencing symptoms
The condition is treated with a combination of two or more measures. In the case of cyclist’s syndrome, a patient can get better by simply resting their pelvic muscles by staying off their bikes.
Other patients are treated with surgery, medication and physiotherapy. Some patients only need medication, physiotherapy and lifestyle changes to manage or even recover fully from the condition.
Can it be prevented?
Unlike lifestyle diseases, conditions like pudendal neuralgia never cross the average person’s mind until they happen. That does not mean that prevention does not work. For one thing, biking and spin class enthusiasts should cycle in moderation.
Get started today!
A patient who starts to experience the symptoms of pudendal neuralgia should seek medical attention immediately. Prompt action on a patient’s part will prevent the neuralgia from getting worse.
Do you have some of the symptoms of pudendal neuralgia? Then reach out and get checked by our specialist today.
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