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Anal Pain

Anal Pain

Pain located in and around the rectum or anus in the perianal region is typically referred to just as anal pain. It is a very common complaint, and while most cases of this pain are not serious, the many nerves in this region can make the actual pain severe. The underlying causes of pain also commonly cause rectal bleeding. Again, this is typically not a sign of a serious condition, but it can be very distressing. In very rare cases, however, anal pain or rectal bleeding can be signs of cancer.

Why Does it Hurt?

The potential causes of anal pain are numerous, and most are not life-threatening. Common causes include small tears in the lining of the anal canal, engaging in anal sex, tailbone injury, diarrhea, fecal impaction, constipation, hemorrhoids, trauma, perianal itching, inflammation of the rectum lining, or perianal abscess. Anal pain may also present as a symptom of an underlying condition such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. In sporadic cases, it may be a sign of anal or colon cancer.

When Should I See a Doctor?

When anal pain becomes severe, does not go away, or is accompanied by significant bleeding, a trip to the doctor may be in order. A doctor will be able to determine the cause of pain and recommend a practical course of treatment. Problems like hemorrhoids can usually be managed with over-the-counter medicated treats, and many other causes of pain can be controlled with anti-inflammatory pain medications such as ibuprofen. Doctors may also recommend soaking the area in warm water as a method of treating minor pain caused by injury or tears.

How Do I Get Diagnosed?

Diagnosing the cause of anal pain is usually straightforward, but doctors may need to perform tests. Typically, they first start by conducting a physical examination and collecting the patient's medical history and a list of the symptoms he or she is experiencing. The source of pain that originates in the anus or rectum can usually be detected during the exam. When a cause cannot be identified, endoscopic procedures used to examine the lower parts of, the lower intestine may be necessary. In some cases, other laboratory or radiological testing may be performed.

What Are Treatment Options?

Treatments for anal pain depend upon the cause. Many causes can be managed through prescribed or over-the-counter pain medications, creams, or anti-inflammatory drugs. Some problems, however, may be to be treated surgically. In cases of cancer, aggressive treatment in the form of chemotherapy or radiation may be required.