What Is Saddle Anesthesia? Everything You Need To Know


Horse riders are mostly associated with using a saddle on the back of a horse, which is a seat usually made of leather and foam cushion for support and stability. They won’t have to feel the pain of directly having their buttocks sitting on the bony back of the horse, which is also beneficial to the horse. It’s not only limited to horses only. It is also used on nonliving things in different occupations; however, the material used for making it might be sturdy or soft (using foam and leather).

Cyclists, truck drivers, motorcyclists, or heavy equipment operators also have saddles to support sitting. However, their job might require them to sit for a more extended period. Worse still, this prolonged sitting can go on for years and cause what is known as saddle anesthesia. We already know what a saddle is, but what is an anesthesia?

Anesthesia is something that makes you not feel pain. It can be administered via inhalation, oral medication, injections, or intravenous (IV) delivery by your healthcare provider, usually during surgery or other medical procedures. Some anesthesia can make you go temporarily unconscious if it’s a severe surgery like a cesarean section, kidney transplant, etc. However, some anesthesia can be done while you’re conscious, but you won’t feel pain. For instance, this can happen when a dentist wants to remove your decayed tooth.

Meaning Of Saddle Anesthesia

The anesthesia experienced during saddle anesthesia is the conscious type; however, it’s not administered by your healthcare provider. So, we can say saddle anesthesia occurs when these specific individuals sit on a saddle but cannot feel any sensation, or partially feel some sensation, or experience tingling due to particular reasons in the following areas: 

Meaning Of Saddle Anesthesia

  • The buttocks
  • Perenium (external genitalia and the anus)
  • The inner thighs
  • The back of the thighs

Causes And Treatment

While anesthesia can be used to carry out surgical operations due to particular illnesses and other medical conditions, the causes of saddle anesthesia differ. The following are the various causes and treatments of saddle anesthesia:

Causes And Treatment

✔️One of the significant causes is nerve compression. Factors like aging, genetics, poor posture, repetitive movements, injury, trauma, etc., can cause herniated discs, where spinal discs bulge and exert pressure on the surrounding nerves. Moreover, these factors can also make the spinal canal (a tunnel in your backbone that protects your spinal cord) narrow and result in a condition known as spinal stenosis. 

Also, spondylolisthesis can occur when factors like genetics, degenerative changes, congenital disabilities, repetitive stress, etc., move one of your spine’s bones out of its usual position. This can compress the nerve in the lower back, causing pain, tingling, weakness, or anesthesia. 

It can be treated via physical therapy, pain management techniques, medication, or surgery to alleviate the pain in the affected nerves, including inflammation.

✔️Another cause is spinal cord injury or compression. An accident can cause harm to the spinal cord and affect the nerves connecting to the lower back and the legs. As a result, there may be a loss of sensation in the buttocks, the perineum, and the back and inner thighs. 

Fortunately, the same treatment procedures for nerve compression can be applied.

✔️Another form of nerve compression that causes saddle anesthesia is cauda equina syndrome. However, this is a severe case involving the nerve root at the lower back region of the spinal cord due to factors like a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or a tumor in the lumbar spine. Apart from experiencing saddle anesthesia, people with cauda equina syndrome may face impaired bowel and bladder function, weakness in the legs, and even paralysis.

If you don’t want the nerves to be permanently damaged and experience long-term complications, then quickly consult your healthcare provider. It can be treated with surgery to alleviate the pressure on the affected nerves. Some symptoms may persist after treatment, so you may also need rehabilitation and regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. 

✔️Infections or inflammation are another cause of saddle anesthesia that can compress or damage the nerve. These infections include shingles and abscesses. People with shingles have painful rashes and blisters that may cause their nerves to tingle or numb. Meanwhile, abscesses can damage the nerve and result in saddle anesthesia. 

However, inflammation such as transverse myelitis can result in inflammation of the spinal cord, affecting nerve signals, impairing sensation, and making you experience saddle anesthesia.

Fortunately, both the infections and inflammation can be treated with medications.


Saddle anesthesia can be a pain due to several factors, but it’s not beyond treatment. However, it would help if acted promptly to avoid nerve damage and long-term complications. 

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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