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Cyclists Beware: Getting to the Bottom of Pudendal Neuralgia, aka “Cyclists Syndrome”

Bicycling is a favorite activity for many, especially for locals and tourists in New Jersey. Yet, like any leisure activity, there are injury risks associated with cycling. Particularly, one condition stands out the most during National Bike Month and Pelvic Pain Awareness Month: pudendal neuralgia. Before taking a seat, let’s talk about “pudendal neuralgia,” commonly referred to as “cyclist’s syndrome.”

Pudendal neuralgia is a term used to describe intense pain in and around the pudendal nerve, which is the main nerve in our pelvic area. Pudendal neuralgia, or “cyclist’s syndrome,” occurs when the pudendal nerve becomes pinched, referred to as pudendal nerve entrapment.

While “cyclist’s syndrome” might sound scary to anyone who owns a bicycle or attends a cycling class, there’s no need to start clearing out the shed or canceling your favorite spin class, just yet. The condition is most common amongst the cyclists’ community, as it is typically seen in cyclists who bike for an extensive amount of time over the years.

According to the Health Organization for Pudendal Education, pudendal nerve entrapment (PNE) is seen in long-distance cyclists because “the prolonged sitting pressure, the continual nerve rubbing and stretching from pedal pumping, and the extremely high seat pressure on the ischial spine and perineum all combine to form the ideal conditions for PNE.”

Dr. Andrew Elkwood, an expert in the surgical treatment of pudendal neuropathy at The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction, stresses the importance of riding with proper form. Referencing a previous article by Self Magazine, Dr. Elkwood stated, “There is a study showing that handlebar position can affect pressure on the pudendal nerve—the problem is greater with the handlebars positioned lower than the saddle,” says Elkwood. “That’s because, in that stooped riding posture, the body’s weight is on the perineum area, putting increased pressure on it.”

At The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction, we offer world-class reconstructive treatments, including the latest advances in nerve surgery. For more information regarding the surgical options that we offer or to book a consultation with us, please contact our office nearest you!