Objective: Analysis of complex pelvic and perineal pain.
Material and methods: Review of the literature concerning the various types of functional pelvic pain.
Results: Various forms of pelvic pain are frequently associated: painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis), irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis pain, vulvodynia, chronic pelvic pain syndrome (chronic prostatitis). Pelvic pain is often associated with fibromyalgia or complex regional pain syndrome (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). The pathophysiological mechanisms involved in these syndromes are all very similar, suggesting a triggering element, neurogenic inflammation, reflex muscular and autonomic responses, central hypersensitization, emotional reactions and biopsychosocial consequences.
Discussion: The concept of visceral pain is evolving and, in practice, complex pelvic pain can comprise neuropathic components, complex regional pain syndrome components, hypersensitization components, and emotional components closely resembling posttraumatic stress syndrome.
Conclusions: When pain cannot be explained by an organ disease, the pain must be considered to be expressed via this organ. Chronic pelvic and perineal pain can become self-perpetuating and identification of its various mechanisms can allow the proposal of individually tailored treatments.
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