What is Testicular Pain?
Testicular pain explained by Denver, Golden, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, and Littleton Colorado’s top pain doctors
Testicular pain is a common cause of discomfort in men. The pain may be acute with a sudden onset and discontinue after several weeks or months. It may also be chronic and resistant to treatment. There are a variety of factors that may cause testicular pain.
Causes of Testicular Pain
An infection in the outer region of the testicle, called epididymititis, is one reason that pain may develop. Orchiditis, or the inflammation of the testicles, leads to pain as well. Both of these conditions may be the result of swelling in the prostate and the occurrence of this underlying issue is higher in older men.
Acute pain is typically the result of an injury to the testicles and may be an indication of a more serious underlying condition such as testicular torsion. In addition, cancers in the testicles, the prostate, or the lower back may cause chronic testicular pain. Pain in this region may also develop after undergoing common treatments that are administered to remove cancer from the body, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This happens because one of the side effects of these types of cancer treatments is nerve damage.
Treatment for Testicular Pain
Conventional oral painkillers such as naproxen, ibuprofen, anticonvulsants (e.g. gabapentin), antidepressants (e.g. venlafaxine), and opioids are the first line of treatment for testicular pain, although opioids are the last resort in terms of pain relievers. The disadvantages of taking medication to try to manage the pain include potential drug abuse, an addiction, or gastrointestinal and organ damage due to the long-term consumption of strong pain killers.
If chronic testicular pain develops due to cancer or after a cancer treatment, nerve blocks may be utilized to achieve moderate or long-term pain relief. This procedure entails injecting steroids and local anesthesia, such as lidocaine, directly into spinal nerves that are contributing to the pain. Nerves in the sacral or lumbar regions are targeted because they regulate the transmission of pain signals in the testicular region.
If the nerve blocks are unsuccessful, radiofrequency ablation may be utilized next. This technique entails introducing thin probes into the associated spinal nerves through the skin. The probes administer electro-thermal impulses to the nerves in order to destroy particular portions that transmit pain signals.
In addition, spinal cord stimulators (SCS) are innovative devices that can be safely and effectively implanted in the back. The devices are thin wires that are soft and flexible. The SCS has a hand-held controller that is outside of the body that the patient can use to initiate a pain-blocking impulse when it is needed. The stimulators can be implanted along the spinal cord near nerves that are associated with the chronic pain in the testicles.
Certain risks are associated with the implantation of SCS such as the development of an infection at the site of the procedure. Although the incidence of scar tissue accumulation at the implantation site is low, the formation of scar tissue may cause pain and inflammation in the nervous tissue. Bleeding and the release of cerebrospinal fluid from the incision may occur as well. Furthermore, the SCS may be unsuccessful if it does not treat a large enough area of affected nerves or if the electrical impulses cause additional symptoms such as extensive nerve damage or a lack of sensation. Despite these risks, SCS is quite effective at relieving chronic testicular pain.
Testicular pain may be caused by a number of factors that include an injury, cancer, or an infection. The pain may be acute and resolve on its own over the course of several weeks or months or it may have a more serious underlying cause, such as testicular torsion. Serious cases require immediate medical attention.
Oral medications such as naproxen, codeine, and gabapentin can be used to manage acute pain until it stops. Long-term testicular pain may indicate prostate enlargement, inflammation, or the presence of malignant tumors. Treatments include sacral or lumbar nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulation, or radiofrequency ablation. Although this condition is distressing, testicular pain can be treated successfully.
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