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This article was published on May 12, 2015, and was last updated on May 1st, 2019 in Hemorrhoid Banding.
What are They and How are They Different from a Hemorrhoid?
You’ve been experiencing varying degrees of discomfort in your rectal region, and the symptoms you’ve been searching online show you’re suffering from anal fissures, rectal spasms, or piles – but what are they, and how can they be treated?
What is an Anal Fissure?
If you’ve noticed blood in your stool, experienced itching or severe rectal pain – often described as “passing razor blades” – it’s possible you have a cut or tear within your anus. These symptoms usually indicate an anal fissure, and it’s the reason for 6 – 15% of visits to colorectal surgeons. This region is filled with sensitive nerves, which is why anal fissures are typically very painful. Anal fissures are small tears, typically caused by trauma to the anal canal and anus. This trauma is often attributed to a very hard bowel movement or repeated cases of diarrhea.
Treatment for anal fissures is generally non-surgical, though it may take some time. Softening the stool by introducing a high-fiber diet, along with psyllium or methylcellulose compounds and an increased intake of fluids is an effective way to break the cycle of tearing the sensitive tissue. A sitz bath can help increase blood flow to the anus, providing some comfort while cleaning the area and preventing infection. A physician may also prescribe an ointment or cream to help heal the fissure and reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing.
If you continue to experience severe pain, bright red blood in the bowl from rectal bleeding, or you’re concerned there may be an underlying medical cause for your symptoms, consult with a physician immediately.
What Are Anal Spasms?
The rectum is comprised of a series of muscles designed to help your body eliminate waste, and like other muscles in your body, sometimes may experience an extreme contraction. When this happens in other muscles, typically on your leg, we generally refer to these as Charley horses; a slightly painful but temporary condition. When this happens in your rectum, it’s often referred to as a rectal spasm or Levator Ani Syndrome: a chronic Charlie-horse within the rectum. Some patients report that the pain abates when they walk or stand.
Treatment for anal spasms generally focuses on relaxing the rectal muscles with prescription level ointments to mitigate or eliminate the pain. For some patients, a treatment of Botox may provide relief, while others are able to use digital massage of the levator ani muscles to alleviate the pain.
What Are Piles?
Internal hemorrhoids are generally painless, as there are few pain-sensing nerves within the area where they form. You may not realize you have an internal hemorrhoid until it progresses and begins to exhibit the symptoms such as itching, bleeding, and swelling.
Like internal hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids develop when the rectal veins and tissue around the anus are subjected to extreme pressure, such as straining during a bowel movement. The affected tissue swells and manifests as bulges or bumps. The symptoms of external hemorrhoids include a burning itch, swelling, and pain (any bleeding is likely coming from an internal hemorrhoid or a fissure). Most people who have external disease also have internal hemorrhoids.
The CRH O’Regan System is a fast, painless, and proven method of non-surgically treating hemorrhoids. Your CRH-trained physician will apply a band around the base of the hemorrhoid, and the affected tissue will fall off after a few days. The procedure is very quick, often taking less than sixty seconds, and 99% of CRH patients report they felt no pain.
If you are experiencing prolonged symptoms of anal fissures, anal spasms, or piles, consult with your physician to determine if you require medical intervention.