Pain

Understanding Pudendal Neuralgia

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What is pudendal neuralgia?

Pudendal neuralgia is a condition that occurs when the pudendal nerve, which runs from the back of the pelvis near the base of the penis or vagina, is damaged or irritated. This nerve sends signals to the brain from the genitals, anus and other nearby body parts. It controls the sphincter muscles that open and close when passing urine or emptying the bowels. Once this nerve is damaged, it can cause issues with bladder and anal incontinence or hesitancy, having sex or simply sitting down.

What are the symptoms of pudendal neuralgia?

Pudendal neuralgia symptoms usually present in the lower body region, genitals or the perineum (the area between the genitals and anus). Symptoms may cease and recur intermittently. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Sharp or burning pain
  • Sensitivity in the affected area
  • Numbness, heaviness or “pins and needles” sensations

Symptoms may be exacerbated by sitting down, and they may expand to the abdominal area, buttocks or legs. Other symptoms could also arise:

  • Urinary hesitancy
  • Chronic constipation
  • Bladder or anal incontinence
  • Painful intercourse
  • Sexual dysfunction

What causes pudendal neuralgia?

Because pudendal neuralgia is caused by damage to the pudendal nerve, some possible causes of this condition include the following:

  • Compression of the pudendal nerve by nearby muscles or tissue
  • Prolonged sitting or cycling
  • Chronic constipation
  • Pelvic area surgery
  • Direct injury to the back or buttocks
  • Damage to the pudendal nerve during childbirth

Although pudendal neuralgia is most likely to develop from trauma to the body, it can also arise as a result of viral infections (herpes zoster, HIV), multiple sclerosis, diabetes and other health conditions.

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