The pudendal nerve is found in the pelvis. It is the biggest division of the pudendal plexus (a network of nerves) and is located behind the sacrospinous ligament, near the tailbone.
The nerve extends from the sacral plexus, through the pudendal canal, the perineum, and the gluteal area. These are structures located near the genital, rectal, and gluteal (buttock) regions.
The condition known as pudendal neuralgia can cause both bladder and anal incontinence. Other symptoms include chronic constipation, rectal pain, and sexual dysfunction.
Pudendal nerve entrapment is another form of pudendal neuralgia. This condition causes phantom pain (pain related to an area that isn’t actually part of the body) in the lower regions of the pelvis, penis and scrotum, vulva, anus, and perineum. Individuals diagnosed with pudendal nerve entrapment have described pain when sitting down. This pain decreases when standing or removing pressure. This condition may be diagnosed in two ways:
- Pudendal motor latency test: doctors can perform a pudendal nerve motor latency test to determine if there is nerve damage. This test measures the motor function of the nerve. This test will give doctors an indication if pudendal neuralgia is present.
- Pudendal block test: doctors perform this test when they suspect a pudendal nerve entrapment. Doctors will use an anesthetic to numb the pudendal nerve. If the symptoms are eradicated, then pudendal nerve entrapment exists.