Testicular torsion, also known as testicular torticollis, is a condition where the spermatic cord becomes twisted. This leads to pain and swelling in one testicle and can be very serious if left untreated.

What is Torsion?

Testicular torsion occurs when a testicle twists on its cord. The testicle is attached to the body by a tough cord called the spermatic cord. This cord is attached to the top of the testicle and then loops around to the bottom of it like an upside-down figure 8. If this cord becomes twisted or kinked, it can block blood flow from reaching your testicle, resulting in pain and swelling that can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.

Causes of Testicular Torsion

Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord becomes twisted. The spermatic cord is the structure that transports blood and nerves to the testicle. The male reproductive system is connected to this structure, so if it becomes twisted, it can cause damage to your testicles as well as other parts of your body.

It’s important to note that testicular torsion only occurs in men who have an intact scrotum. In the case of a man who has had a vasectomy or whose scrotum was surgically removed, this condition cannot occur.

Who gets Testicular Torsion?

Testicular torsion is a common condition that affects the testicles, which are located inside the scrotum (the sack of skin that hangs between your legs). It can occur at any age but is most common in men aged 15 to 35.

Testicular torsion is more likely to occur in men who have a history of testicular torsion or who have had previous surgery on their testicles.

Five Symptoms of Testicular Torsion

  • Pain in the testicle. The pain may be felt as a dull ache, or it may feel sharp and sudden.
  • Swelling of the testicle. This swelling can occur quickly or over time.
  • A feeling of heaviness in your scrotum (the pouch under your penis that holds your testicles).
  • A feeling as if something is twisting or turning inside your scrotum while you’re sitting down, getting up from a chair, or lying on your back (also called being kicked in the groin).

Partial Torsion and Warning Pains

One warning sign of testicular torsion is the occurrence of a partial torsion. The testicle can twist partially, which can be noticed on a physical exam or by an ultrasound scan. This is a sign that your testicle is in trouble and will need immediate surgery to prevent loss of circulation to the injured part of your body.

Partial torsions are not always accompanied by pain; however, if you experience warning pains similar to those described above near your groin area or scrotum during activity or when coughing/sneezing/getting out of bed (or any other scenario), you should see your doctor immediately.

Treatment options for Testicular Torsion

If you believe that you may have testicular torsion, please see a doctor immediately. If the testicle has not been damaged and does not require immediate surgery, your doctor will likely treat it with rest and ice packs for about a week before monitoring the situation. However, emergency surgery may be necessary if the testicle has been damaged or is dislocated (which is more common in older men).

Suppose surgery is required to save your testicle after a torsion occurs. In that case, this operation can be performed under general anesthesia in an operating room at a hospital or outpatient surgical center by an experienced urologist or another surgeon specializing in this area of medicine. A urologist performs most of these procedures; however, some general surgeons also perform them successfully if they have experience with this type of procedure.

To Wait or Not to Wait?

The longer you wait, the more likely it is that your testicle will be damaged.

If you think you have testicular torsion and are not sure whether to go to the hospital or wait a little while, here’s what I would do:

  • 1. Call my doctor’s office and ask them about my symptoms (or see them in person).
  • 2. If they recommend going straight to the emergency room, do so.
  • 3. If they say I should wait until morning or the next day (because it may not be extreme enough yet), then call back around lunchtime to see if any new information has come through from other cases that could help me decide what course of action might be best for me personally—for example, if there was someone who had similar symptoms as mine but did not need surgery right away because their testicle had been saved by an immediate visit to an ER doctor who knew how important early treatment was…

Testicular Torsion is a medical emergency. If you think you might have it, see your doctor immediately.

Testicular torsion is a medical emergency. If you think you might have it, see your doctor immediately.

Torsion can be fatal if not treated quickly because of the risk of permanent damage to the testicle and infertility.


If you think that you might have a testicular torsion, don’t wait to see your doctor. Testicular torsion is a serious medical emergency that needs to be diagnosed and treated quickly. If left untreated, testicular torsion can cause permanent damage or even loss of the affected testicle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion (or simply “torsion”) is a medical emergency that occurs when the spermatic cord—which supplies blood to and carries sperm away from each testicle—becomes twisted. This can cause damage to the tissue of the testicle, resulting in pain, swelling and discoloration.

What causes testicular torsion?

Testicular torsion can result from a number of factors, including:

Trauma to the scrotum (e.g., from a sports injury)

Heavy lifting or straining

Wearing tight underwear or pants that constrict blood flow in the spermatic cord

What are the symptoms of testicular torsion?

Symptoms of testicular torsion include: Pain in the scrotum (the area between your legs just below your penis) Swelling in the scrotum Discoloration of the scrotum

What should I do if I suspect that I have testicular torsion?

You should see a doctor immediately if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms. The sooner you are diagnosed and treated, the less likely it is that your testicle will need to be removed (i.e., surgically removed).

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