Prostatitis is a general term that describes inflammation of the prostate. There are two main forms of the condition, the chronic form and the acute form.
Chronic prostatitis is the most common form of prostatitis. The condition is not usually caused by an infection and is therefore also known of as chronic non-bacterial prostatitis or prostate pain syndrome.
The exact cause of this condition is not known but the condition is characterized by pelvic pain that has persisted for more than three months despite the absence of any urinary tract infection. The pain ranges in severity from mild to debilitating and can involve structures from the tip of the penis and the testicle through to the lower back and rectum. Some of the possible risk factors for chronic prostatitis include:
Backflow of urine into the prostate
Earlier episode(s) of prostate gland infection
An infection that is not yet detectable using laboratory tests
Inflammation of the nerves around the prostate gland
Nerve damage that causes pain in the absence of any disorder
Weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles
Stress and anxiety
The condition may be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Acute prostatitis refers to the sudden onset of prostatitis symptoms. This condition is usually caused by bacterial infection and is considered to be a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment with a course of antibiotics. Without treatment, the prostate and surrounding tissues may become irreversibly damaged. Men with this condition often present with a fever and acute pain in the genital region and lower back, as well as urinary symptoms such as an increased urge to urinate and pain on urination.
Acute prostatitis may be seen after a biopsy of the prostate, after a urinary tract infection or after the use of a urinary catheter.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc