Anorectal and Pelvic Pain

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Abstract

Although pelvic pain is a symptom of several structural anorectal and pelvic disorders (eg, anal fissure, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease), this comprehensive review will focus on the 3 most common nonstructural, or functional, disorders associated with pelvic pain: functional anorectal pain (ie, levator ani syndrome, unspecified anorectal pain, and proctalgia fugax), interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. The first 2 conditions occur in both sexes, while the latter occurs only in men. They are defined by symptoms, supplemented with levator tenderness (levator ani syndrome) and bladder mucosal inflammation (interstitial cystitis). Although distinct, these conditions share several similarities, including associations with dysfunctional voiding or defecation, comorbid conditions (eg, fibromyalgia, depression), impaired quality of life, and increased health care utilization. Several factors, including pelvic floor muscle tension, peripheral inflammation, peripheral and central sensitization, and psychosocial factors, have been implicated in the pathogenesis. The management is tailored to symptoms, is partly supported by clinical trials, and includes multidisciplinary approaches such as lifestyle modifications and pharmacological, behavioral, and physical therapy. Opioids should be avoided, and surgical treatment has a limited role, primarily in refractory interstitial cystitis.

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