Current concepts in vulvodynia with a focus on pathogenesis and pain mechanisms

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Vulvodynia is a common and debilitating chronic pain syndrome characterised by neuropathic-type pain. Localised provoked vulvodynia is the most common type, followed by generalised unprovoked vulvodynia. Vulvodynia is a diagnosis of exclusion. The cause is unknown but current research suggests an underlying predisposition to increased sensitivity to pain and peripheral and central neural sensitisation. Musculoskeletal factors also play an important role. Vulvodynia has a significant impact on the quality of life, mood, functional ability and relationships of patients and their partners. It is highly associated with anxiety and depression. Treatment needs to follow a biopsychosocial model and be tailored to the patient. A multimodal and multidisciplinary approach is often most effective. We have suggested a therapeutic ladder.

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