It could mean you are days away from a genital herpes outbreak. Although genital herpes lesions are usually localized to the genitalia and anus, the virus that causes genital herpes is capable of causing buttock and leg pain as well. Read on to find out why this is.
The Herpes Simplex Viruses
Genital herpes is caused by two related viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV1 and HSV2, respectively). Although HSV1 is usually associated with cold sores and HSV2 with genital herpes lesions, they are both capable of causing either lesion type.
How They Work
Herpes viruses prefer to infect nerve cells. Because of this, they are very successful at evading the immune system which does not monitor the nervous system. Herpes simplex viruses first infect a human by entering through an opening on the skin, like a sore or a scrape. In genital herpes, this most often happens during sexual intercourse. After causing a mild illness, fatigue, fever, muscle aches much like many other viruses, the herpes simplex virus journeys up a nerve fiber until it reaches a root ganglion or a large bundle of nerves. It waits there, dormant and causing no symptoms, until the immune system becomes weakened. This immunocompromise then signals the virus to reactivate, at which time it ventures back down the nerve and toward the skin where it may be transmitted.
So What Does This Have to Do With Leg or Buttock Pain?
I'm getting there! When the herpes simplex virus first becomes reactivated and is making its journey down a nerve it can cause what are called prodromes, or non-specific symptoms that occur right before an outbreak. Feeling fatigued just before getting a cold or the flu is an example of a prodrome. The nerve most likely involved with pain in the buttocks or leg is the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve which starts in the lower back and extends down the buttocks and legs. Because nerves are also responsible for the sensation of pain any movement of a virus from nerve cell to nerve cell can create strange sensations. This can be like burning or vague pain just before a herpes outbreak.
Other Things That Cause Buttock/Leg Pain
Don't get too excited, though; buttock and leg pain are caused by many other things as well. The same cause of herpes buttock pain irritation of the sciatic nerve can also be the result of other things. The sciatic nerve can become inflamed when things like bone, tumors, or muscles push against it unnaturally.
Is There Any Way to Prevent This Pain if I Have Herpes?
Not really; the best thing you can do is keep your immune system healthy. As long as the immune system isn't compromised by lack of sleep, poor nutrition, medications, excessive stress the herpes simplex virus is unlikely to reactivate. You can do this by getting plenty of sleep, eating natural and unprocessed foods, de-stressing with meditation or other fun activities, and taking immune enhancing supplements containing things like zinc and vitamin C.
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