Anal Pain

Anal pain, or pain in the perianal region (the area around the anus or rectum), is a common complaint with a number of different causes. Although the causes of anal pain are often benign, the pain itself can be severe because of the many nerve endings in the area. If anal pain is associated with rectal bleeding, fever, or anal discharge, it is more likely to be serious and a physician should be consulted promptly.

Causes of Anal Pain

Anal pain can result from a variety of conditions that may be more or less significant medically. These may include:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Traumatic injury
  • Diarrhea, constipation or fecal impaction
  • Rectal ulcer
  • Anal sex
  • Anal fissure or fistula
  • Anal or colon cancer
  • Perianal abscess or hematoma
  • Rectal muscle spasm (proctalgia fugax or levator syndrome)

The diarrhea and constipation that often result in anal pain can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or by some form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. Another form of anal pain is anal itching, known as pruritus ani, which, while usually not serious, can be extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Treatment of Anal Pain

Anal pain as a symptom can frequently be treated with simple home remedies, although it is always necessary to rule out more serious underlying disorders. In most cases, these simple remedies solve the problem, but when the cause is an abscess, ulcer, or disease condition, medication or even surgery may be necessary.

Under ordinary circumstances, treatments for anal pain include:

  • Over-the-counter analgesics
  • Over-the-counter ointments
  • Sitz baths
  • Increased intake of dietary fiber
  • Avoidance of foods that may be irritating

Foods that frequently cause anal itching or pain include coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, tomatoes and citrus fruit. Anal pain or itching may, however, have idiosyncratic causes, so individuals with this problem should pay close attention to their diets in order to avoid their particular dietary triggers.

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