It is attached to the inner surface of the side of the lesser pelvis, and unites with its fellow of the opposite side to form the greater part of the floor of the pelvic cavity.
It supports the viscera in pelvic cavity, and surrounds the various structures which pass through it.
Posteriorly, this fascial origin corresponds, more or less closely, with the tendinous arch of the pelvic fascia, but in front, the muscle arises from the fascia at a varying distance above the arch, in some cases reaching nearly as high as the canal for the obturator vessels and nerve.
The fibers pass downward and backward to the middle line of the floor of the pelvis; the most posterior are inserted into the side of the last two segments of the coccyx; those placed more anteriorly unite with the muscle of the opposite side, in a median fibrous raphé (anococcygeal raphé), which extends between the coccyx and the margin of the anus.
The middle fibers are inserted into the side of the rectum, blending with the fibers of the Sphincter muscles; lastly, the anterior fibers descend upon the side of the prostate to unite beneath it with the muscle of the opposite side, joining with the fibers of the Sphincter ani externus and Transversus perinei, at the central tendinous point of the perineum.
The anterior portion is occasionally separated from the rest of the muscle by connective tissue.
From this circumstance, as well as from its peculiar relation with the prostate, which it supports as in a sling, it has been described as a distinct muscle, under the name of Levator prostate.
In the female the anterior fibers of the Levator ani descend upon the side of the vagina.
The discomfort may be relieved by walking or pelvic tightening exercises similar to Kegel exercises. Other treatments include massage of the muscle, warm baths, muscle relaxant medications, and biofeedback. Electrical stimulation of the levator ani muscle has been used to try to break the spastic cycle. Injection of botulinum toxin A has also been used.
Variants of levator ani syndrome include proctalgia fugax (fleeting pain in the rectum) and coccydynia (pain in the coccygeal region). Proctalgia fugax and levator ani syndrome have not been found to be of psychosomatic origin, although stressful events may trigger attacks.
Diagnosis can be elusive: piriformis and levator ani tenderness are prevalent in chronic pelvic pain patients.(Gynecology)
Sep 15, 2004; CHICAGO -- Up to a fourth of women with chronic pelvic pain also have piriformis or levator ani tenderness, according to a study...