The testicles are very sensitive, as any man can tell you. It’s a rare man who hasn’t experienced the physical trauma of being “canned” at some point in his life. Whether it was during a playground scuffle as a kid, or accidentally walking into a table corner that was just the wrong height, most men have experienced testicle pain.Physical trauma to the testicles hurts, but the pain is usually temporary. Chronic pain suggests a more serious condition. Severe physical trauma, inguinal hernias, and infections, such as orchitis and epididymitis, can all cause chronic testicle pain. In some cases, chronic pain may indicate the presence of testicular cancer.
Epididymitis and Epididymo-Orchitis
Epididymitis and epididymo-orchitis are inflammations of the epididymis, the tubing that connects the testicles to the vas deferens. The testicles, as well as the epididymis, may be inflamed, causing chronic pain. Epididymitis is usually caused by bacterial infections, which travel to the epididymis from the prostate or the urinary system.
Epididymitis is a common cause of testicle pain: U.S. hospitals report over 60,000 cases of epididymitis a year. Symptoms of epididymitis include a gradual increase in testicular pain over a period of days. Fever will be present, and men may report painful urination. Antibiotics are used to treat epididymitis, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, are used to reduce fever and relieve pain.
An inguinal hernia occurs when a section of intestine pushes through the intestinal wall. The protruding intestines can push into the scrotum or the groin. An inguinal hernia that pushes into the scrotum can cause severe pain.
Emergency surgery may be required to repair an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia cannot always be “fixed” by simply pushing the intestines back through the abdominal wall, despite our popular beliefs about hernias. If you have symptoms of an inguinal hernia, consult a doctor as soon as possible.
Orchitis is a viral infection of the testicles. Symptoms of orchitis include chronic testicle pain, swelling, and fever. Mumps is the disease most often responsible for orchitis. As mumps is a viral infection, there is no specific treatment for mumps orchitis.
In addition to mumps, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and syphilis may all cause orchitis. Mumps is, however, the most common cause. Orchitis is not considered dangerous, but it can cause infertility. Fortunately, childhood vaccinations for mumps have significantly lowered the risk of orchitis.
Testicular Cancer Treatment Options
If cancer is the suspected cause of your testicle pain, your urologist and oncologist will recommend the course or courses of treatment that are best for you situation. But chances are you’ll still have to do some research on your own before making a decision. You’ll find all the pertinent information in one place: the Testicular Cancer Treatment Decision Tool.
Some cases of testicular cancer present with chronic testicle pain. Pain is not a common symptom of testicular cancer, however. Swollen testicles or an enlarged testicle are more common symptoms of testicular cancer. More information is available about testicular cancer at Testicular Cancer Symptoms.
Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord twists, blocking the flow of blood to the testicles. Strenuous exercise, trauma, and defects in connective tissue have all been linked to testicular torsion. While testicular torsion is most common in young men and boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen, the condition may occur at any age.
Testicular torsion symptoms include sudden, severe pain in a single testicle, sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Without prompt treatment, the testicle will be severely damaged and may die. Surgery is required to save a testicle affected by testicular torsion.
Hematocele and Trauma
Most testicle trauma pain only lasts for approximately thirty minutes. Pain due to physical trauma that persists indicates possible injury, and should be checked as soon as possible by a doctor.
Hematocele is a condition that causes chronic pain after trauma. Hematocele pain is caused by blood pooling in the scrotum. Most cases of hematocele will clear up without treatment. If chronic pain persists, however, surgery may be necessary.