Prostate problems present as a common problem among the male population.
The prostate gland sits below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, a small pipe that runs from the bladder’s neck toward the tip of the penis.
During ejaculation, seme is combined with prostatic fluid. The fluid acts as a nourishing agent, allowing the semen to survive the female reproductive tract’s acidic environment.
While an enlarged prostate is considered the most common prostatic condition among men, other diseases can also be problematic. Prostatitis remains a concerning problem amongst men. The condition is prevalent among men of all ages, and it often presents with lower urinary tract symptoms. In the US, an estimated two million doctor visits each year are related to prostatitis.
We consider the most effective methods for managing pain associated with prostatitis in this post. The post will provide guidance on medical treatments. Tips for reducing pain at home will also be shared.
Types Of Prostatitis
Prostatitis is a term that can refer to four specific conditions that affect the prostate gland. The condition may include a prostate infection. In such a case, a bacterial infection is often found when tests are conducted. In other cases, no microorganisms are present, yet the inflammatory responses remain present in the prostate.
Understanding the different types of prostatitis is essential. While prostatitis symptoms tend to be similar among the four types, a number of distinct characteristics can also sometimes be observed. In this section, we take a look at the four main types of prostatitis. We also consider the symptoms that may be present with each. Men should be aware of these symptoms and ensure appropriate actions are taken when they are noted.
Acute Bacterial Prostatitis
The development of acute bacterial prostatitis is considered the most severe type of these diseases. An acute bacterial infection causes this condition in the prostate gland. There are a few reasons why this could happen – in most cases, it is related to a urinary tract infection.
When bacteria invade the urinary tract, it causes infection to develop. In some men, the bacteria may leak into the prostate gland. When this happens, the infection spreads toward the prostate, and bacteria start to grow in this gland.
When a man has acute bacterial prostatitis, it is important that they seek medical care as soon as possible. This is important, as serious complications can develop should acute bacterial prostatitis be left untreated.
Sepsis is one of these complications. Sepsis causes inflammatory triggers throughout the body. This is generally considered a life-threatening complication. Men will need emergency medical attention.
Symptoms that men should be on the lookout for include:
- An increase in urination frequency
- Men often complain about more nighttime urination.
- A high fever is also often found among these patients.
- Some patients have “chills.”
- There are cases where urination troubles can develop too.
Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis
Sometimes, a urinary tract infection spreads to the prostate gland. The patient develops acute bacterial prostatitis. Once this infection is treated, the patient develops chronic bacterial prostatitis.
In this case, some of the bacteria get trapped inside the patient’s prostate. This bacterium often leads to a frequently recurring urinary tract infection. The infection tends to be difficult to treat – and once treated, it may come back again in the future.
Researchers find that chronic bacterial prostatitis is a relatively rare form of the disease. It can still pose a problem and interfere with a man’s general well-being.
Symptoms that are generally associated with chronic bacterial prostatitis may include:
- There may be a pain when the man ejaculates
- During bowel movements, the man may experience pain symptoms.
- A pain sensation with urination
- Urinating may also present with a burning sensation.
- There may be blood in the man’s semen or urine.
- Urine may also have a foul smell.
- Pain can develop in the lower back.
- Pain may also be present in the testicles and just above the patient’s pubic bone.
There are complications that can develop if chronic bacterial prostatitis is not treated properly. This may include sepsis and a prostate abscess. In some cases, a urinary blockage is noted. This leads to the patient being unable to urinate.
Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis is considered the most prevalent of the condition. In the majority of men with prostatitis, this particular type of disease will be diagnosed. The condition is often referred to as chronic pelvic pain syndrome. This is due to the pelvic pain that generally accompanies the condition.
When tests are conducted to determine the cause, no bacteria will be found in the test results. There is no single cause that is associated with the development of chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Instead, researchers have found that numerous factors can contribute to the risk of the condition.
Men should understand what factors in their daily life can increase their risk of developing chronic non-bacterial prostatitis. Some of these factors include:
- Problems involving the nerve of the urinary tract
- Parasites entering the urinary tract
- Problems with the pelvic floor muscles
- Chemical exposure that causes irritation
- Frequently riding on a bicycle
- Having been affected by a prostate infection in the past
This condition may affect up to 33% of the male population. Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis is known to cause pain in the pelvis. Perineum pain is also not uncommon. A lot of men with this condition also experiences pain in the genitals.
Apart from the three types of prostatitis we noted above, we also need to look at another type. This one is called asymptomatic prostatitis. In some cases, it is referred to as asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis. As the name of the condition suggests, this prostatitis is asymptomatic – which means a man will not experience symptoms.
The condition is characterized by inflammation that affects the prostate gland. Even though inflammation exists in the prostate, the patient is unlikely to experience symptoms. The condition has, however, been associated with certain complications. While asymptomatic prostatitis may not cause erectile dysfunction or another type of sexual dysfunction, it may lead to fertility problems.
Symptoms associated with the bladder and urine flow are commonly associated with prostatitis. This may include urinary retention or frequent urination. While lower urinary tract symptoms are common, it is important to note that prostatitis is also known to cause pain.
Both bacterial and non-bacterial prostatitis can cause pain symptoms. The pain can affect various regions of the patient’s body. The pain symptoms may also be more aggressive under certain circumstances. As an example, some men tend to experience an increase in pain when they ejaculate. Painful urination is also relatively common among men with prostatitis.
The level of pain experienced is generally dependant on the type of prostatitis and the severity of the condition. Patients with chronic non-bacterial prostatitis will typically experience less severe pain compared to a man with acute bacterial prostatitis. A recurrent urinary tract infection may cause discomfort to come and go with a bacterial kind of disease.
In patients where complications develop, such as a prostatic abscess, more severe pain may be noted as well.
Generally, the pelvic area tends to develop pain symptoms. The pain can also affect the perineum, the scrotum, and the lower back. Some patients also complain about pain at the tip of their penis.
While the pain may be similar to in some cases to patients with prostate cancer, it is important to note that prostatitis is not a cancerous disease. A man with chronic or acute prostatitis will also not have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. Even among those with prostatic secretions, it is essential to note that this is generally caused by the infection located in the prostate gland.
How Does The Pain Cycle Work?
While pain is a significant symptom associated with prostatitis, more to this disease needs to be noted. Men often find that the condition affects them at both a physiological and psychological level. With this in mind, it is important to consider how the pain cycle works.
In this section, we will provide a quick overview of the pain cycle associated with prostatitis. Men should realize how the pain cycle works and how it can lead to aggravated symptoms.
The cycle starts with pain. This is an obvious factor, but other than pain itself, complications tend to develop in the process. These complications then lead to the development of more aggressive pain and may also contribute to a lack of physical activity in the process.
Here is a quick overview of how the pain cycle with prostatitis works. In addition to being a valid factor in a case of prostatitis, this pain cycle applies to conditions like prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia too.
- It starts with pain. The condition presents itself, which is prostatitis in this case. The effects of the condition lead to the development of pain symptoms.
- Living with pain causes a man to experience a low mood. The man starts to experience symptoms associated with anxiety.
- The anxiety, low mood, and the pain itself cause disruptions in the man’s sleep patterns. These effects also cause a reduction in physical activity.
- All of these effects accumulate, eventually causing the man to experience symptoms associated with depression.
- The cycle then leads back to pain. Studies have shown that depression has a strong association with pain. Increased depression may cause the pain symptoms to feel aggravated.
Treatments For Managing Pain
The treatments provided for prostatitis with prostatitis depend on the type of the condition diagnosed. Primary treatment options will focus on treating the disease itself, but this is not always possible. In some men, a specific cause cannot be identified. When this is the situation, it is difficult for a doctor to provide treatment that addresses prostatitis in particular.
In men with a bacterial infection in the prostate, antibiotic therapy will generally be used. This therapy helps to get rid of the bacteria that invaded the prostate. Stronger antibiotics are needed if the man has acute bacterial prostatitis. With chronic bacterial prostatitis, long-term treatment with antibiotics will often be required. The patient may be provided with a course of antibiotics every time a recurrent urinary tract infection is noted.
When antibiotics take care of the infection, men may experience an alleviation of pain and discomfort.
In some cases, such as with chronic prostatitis, pain symptoms may be present for long periods of time. In such a situation, men need to learn how they can manage the pain. As noted previously, the pain cycle can lead to psychological complications and interfere with the patient’s ability to sleep and remain active.
There are strategies that can be used to help with pain management in men with prostatitis. Since the pain symptoms are generally accompanied by inflammation, a dual treatment strategy is needed. A doctor may choose to provide the patient with medication to help reduce pain and inflammation. There are also a couple of natural techniques that can be used to help.
Drugs That Can Help With Pain
Apart from antibiotics, doctors can prescribe a number of additional drugs to patients with prostatitis. The doctor will initially consider the severity of prostatitis. It is also important to consider the amount of inflammation that affects the patient.
A few tests may be ordered. These tests will give the doctor a better overview of what approaches need to be taken to treat the patient. The patient may also be asked a few questions. Again, we move back to the pain cycle here. In addition, to provide medication that focuses explicitly on alleviating inflammation and pain, we need to consider the psychological complications.
When the patient develops anxiety and depression, they could experience aggravated pain symptoms. The same happens when the patient is unable to sleep well at night. While these are all related to pain perception, it can still become problematic for the patient.
To help with pain and inflammation at the same time, a doctor is likely to suggest the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These drugs help to reduce inflammatory responses in the body without the need to use corticosteroid drugs.
Examples of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include naproxen, ibuprofen, and aspirin. These drugs help to reduce the inflammatory triggers that occur in the body. By using such a drug, inflammation levels in the prostate may be reduced. This could help to reduce urinary symptoms experienced and alleviate the pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are available in over-the-counter and prescription strengths. A doctor needs to analyze the patient and determine what type of drug and what dosage is needed. The doctor will then provide the patient with details of an OTC drug they can buy or prescribe a stronger drug if needed.
If the patient shows signs of anxiety and depression, the doctor may also focus on addressing these psychological matters as complications of prostatitis pain. When conditions like depression are treated effectively, the patient may find that their pain symptoms improve. Several studies link chronic pain and depression.
People with depression generally have a change in their perception of pain. This can cause chronic pain symptoms in patients – and in those with existing pain, an increase in the pain level perceived may be experienced too.
When depression and anxiety are treated, along with appropriate drugs to help with pain management, the patient may find they start to sleep better. This forms a complete treatment strategy, where every part plays a role in providing relief in pain. The goal of such a treatment plan is also to offer the patient a higher quality of life.
While these strategies are useful, it is important to note that some men may need to consider using drugs for urinary symptoms too. When pressure is applied to the urethra, it can cause painful urination, along with other symptoms. The use of a drug like Flomax or Uroxatral relaxes the muscles at the prostate gland. This relieves pressure and also enhances urine flow. The drugs can be helpful to reduce discomfort too.
Tips For Helping To Control Pain
When a man is diagnosed with prostatitis, the first line of treatment will generally include a prescription from his primary care physician. This, however, is not the only strategy that can be used to relieve the symptoms.
There are a couple of strategies the patient can use to complement the medication provided to them. These strategies focus on helping to relieve discomfort, inflammation, and pain.
We share a couple of tips that men should consider implementing in their daily lives if they have been diagnosed with prostatitis:
- Prostate Massage: It has been suggested that men should consider prostate massage if they have a non-bacterial type of prostatitis. Massage therapy that focuses on the prostate provides myofascial release. Gentle massaging patterns are used. The idea is to reduce tightness and tension in the pelvic floor muscles. The use of this strategy may help to reduce spasms in the muscles in the pelvic region.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises: Often referred to as Kegel exercise, this activity can be done anywhere and at any time. No equipment is needed, and it can be done in a seated or standing position. The exercises focus on strengthening the muscles located in the pelvic floor region.
- Hot Therapy: Heated pads can be used to introduce the patient to hot therapy. Patients who do not have heated pads can use a warm water bottle instead. The heated surface of the pad should not be placed directly on the pelvis. Instead, it should be wrapped in a towel. The idea is to heat up the area, which may help reduce symptoms.
- Acupuncture: This ancient technique holds promising results in different conditions and illnesses, including prostatitis. Some men find that undergoing a regular acupuncture session helps relieve tension and reduces the amount of inflammation in their bodies. These effects may provide positive effects on pain symptoms too.
- Natural Supplements: A few natural supplements may also help men with pain in the prostate and pelvic areas. Men often use supplements that contain quercetin with prostate inflammation. This natural extract may help to reduce swelling in the prostate gland and also result in a lowering of pain symptoms. Bee pollen is sometimes combined with quercetin, which may yield a more powerful effect on the prostate symptoms experienced.
Apart from these techniques, men should also find relaxation techniques that work for them. Some men start to practice meditation, for example. This can be an effective method for reducing feelings of anxiety or depression. Meditation has also been shown to improve sleep, another factor that is part of the pain cycle.
There are also certain natural supplements and plant extracts known to promote calmness. Drinking some chamomile tea before bed is one effective strategy. This tea helps to reduce stress levels, which can contribute to a calm mind. When the mind is calm, there are fewer feelings of anxiety.
Prostatitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the prostate gland. Bacteria can cause the condition, but there are cases where no bacterium can be found in tests. The inflammation can cause urinary symptoms. Urine flow may be weakened, and the patient may experience frequent urination. Treatments are available but need to be provided based on the type of prostatitis that the patient has.