Anal pain is pain that occurs in the area of the anus and rectum. This is a common symptom that most people will experience for varying amounts of time and varying degrees of intensity. It also has an association with numerous medical conditions that can be either benign or life-threatening.
What is the cause of anal pain?
Anal pain is caused by a number of different conditions. The conditions that cause this problem in most people are benign such as:
- Hemorrhoids (Flares or thrombosis of hemorrhoids)
- Anal fissure (a linear tear in the skin of the anus)
- Anal abscess (a collection of pus around the anus due to infection)
- Anal fistula (a tunnel that forms within the anus due to infected anal glands)
- Pruritis ani (inflammation of the skin around the anus causing itching or burning)
- Anal warts
- Crohn's disease
- Infections (including sexually transmitted diseases)
- Pelvic floor dysfunction (levator ani syndrome, proctalgia fugax) disorders of the pelvic floor muscles
The more serious conditions associated with anal pain include:
- Anal cancer
- Rectal cancer
How is anal pain diagnosed?
When you see your colorectal specialist, a number of evaluations will take place including the following:
- careful history taking
- physical examination including anorectal exam
- anoscopy (small camera to look at the lining of the anus and rectum)
In some rare circumstances, your specialist may also request additional special tests such as anal pap smear or culture swabs and x-ray tests including CT scan, MRI scan or videodefacography in order to finalize the diagnosis.
What are ways of treating my pain?
As mentioned, anal pain is very common and most causes are benign. Simple measures to look after your pain at first would be:
- Over the counter pain relievers (e.g ibuprofen or Tylenol)
- Sitz bath (sitting in warm water in the bathtub is helpful in relieving pain)
- Over the counter stool softeners help soften bowel movements that decreases pain
- Taking extra fiber in your diet including fiber supplements enables for easier, less painful bowel movements
When should I call to see the specialist?
A specialist should be contacted If the methods above are not producing relief or your anal pain is associated with the following problems:
- anal pain is severe and getting worse
- there is bleeding seen
- there is fever
- there is a lump or swelling around the area
- generally concerned and not getting relief after a few days of self-treatment