Successful treatment of refractory pudendal neuralgia with pulsed radiofrequency

Ellen E. Rhame, Kenneth A. Levey, Christopher G. Gharibo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Pudendal neuralgia (PN) involves severe, sharp pain along the course of the pudendal nerve, often aggravated with sitting. Current therapies include medication management, nerve blocks, decompression surgery, and neuromodulation. The ideal management for PN has not been determined. We present a case of a female with 1.5 years of sharp, burning pain of the left gluteal and perineal regions. She could not sit for longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Sacroiliac joint, epidural, and piriformis injections did not improve her pain. She had tried physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage, and acupuncture but the pain persisted. Medication treatment with oxycodone-acetaminophen, extended release morphine sulfate, amitriptyline, and gabapentin provided only minor relief and she had failed other multianalgesic therapy. She had been unable to work at her desk job for over a year. She had a positive response to 2 diagnostic pudendal nerve blocks with lidocaine that provided pain relief for several hours. This patient elected to undergo pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) of the left pudendal nerve in hopes of achieving a longer duration and improved pain relief. PRF was carried out at a frequency of 2 Hz and a pulse width of 20 milliseconds for a duration of 120 seconds at 42 degrees Celsius. After the procedure she reported tolerating sitting for 4 to 5 hours. Her multianalgesic therapy was successfully weaned. At 5 months follow-up she felt motivated to return to work. One and a half years after the procedure the patient is only taking oxycodone- acetaminophen for pain relief and still has good sitting tolerance. There were no procedure-related complications. To our knowledge PRF for the treatment of PN has not been reported elsewhere in the literature. PRF is a relatively new procedure and is felt to be safer than continuous radiofrequency. Current literature suggests that PRF delivers an electromagnetic field, which modifies neuro-cellular function with minimal cellular destruction. We conclude that PRF of the pudendal nerve offers promise as a potential treatment of PN that is refractory to conservative therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-638
Number of pages6
JournalPain Physician
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Neuromodulation
  • Pudendal nerve
  • Pudendal neuralgia
  • Pulsed radiofrequency


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