Disorders of the Anus and Rectum

 

 

 

 

Disorders of the Anus and Rectum

Rectal pain is a common problem. Most people have experienced it at least once in their lives. It usually appears as a mild irritation, but sometimes the pain can be so severe that it can be incapacitating.

Causes of rectal and anal pain

Many conditions may cause rectal pain. Most are not serious. Common causes of rectal and anal pain include:

Less likely reasons for rectal and anal pain include:

  • Cancer
  • Infection, including anorectal abscesses or proctitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • Foreign bodies in the rectum or rectal prolapse

Symptoms of rectal and anal pain

The pain of proctalgia fugax is sudden and intense, usually lasting less than a minute. But in some rare cases, the spasm can go on for an hour. It is described as a sharp, stabbing or cramp like pain occurring at the anal opening. The pain can awaken you from a sound sleep. The attacks seem to occur in clusters, appearing daily for a while then disappearing for weeks to months.

The pain of levator ani syndrome is felt higher up inside the rectal passage and feels like a tight pressure. The sensation is made worse by sitting and improves with walking or standing. The pain usually lasts 20 minutes or longer and tends to reoccur at regular intervals.

Most hemorrhoids only cause a mild discomfort, but the pain can become severe if the hemorrhoid thromboses. This occurs when the blood in the hemorrhoid clots. The symptoms are an excruciating throbbing or stabbing pain that begins suddenly and can last for up to 4 days.

An anal fissure causes a tearing or knifelike pain when it first occurs and turns into a dull ache that can last for hours. The tearing of the skin may also cause a small amount of bleeding. Each bowel movement irritates the injured skin producing a sharp pain. The pain can be so intense that most people try to delay having a bowel movement, which only causes a harder stool and more pain when it is passed.

Diagnosing anal and rectal pain

You should contact your board certified physician if home therapies or over the counter treatments are not helping.

  • You should call immediately if you think you have a thrombosed hemorrhoid, because early treatment is the key to relief.
  • Also call your board certified physician if you are having any bleeding. Sometimes rectal bleeding can be a sign of a more serious problem such as colon cancer.

Most anorectal problems can be diagnosed by a physical or visual exam. You may require a digital rectal exam if your physician suspects levator ani syndrome. A colonoscopy may be necessary if your physician suspects the problem is not restricted to the anus or rectum.

If you have frequent painful or large, solid bowel movements, eating a high fiber diet and using a stool softener could help provide relief. Regular doctor visits will also help you get the best possible outcome.

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