An anal fissure is essentially a small tear in the lining of the anal canal. They are most often caused by a bowel movement that rips the anus lining, or other stretching of the anal canal, such as during anal intercourse. Anal fissures are more likely to develop if you have a tight anal sphincter—the circular ring of muscle that surrounds the anal canal. It is important not to confuse anal fissures with hemorrhoids.
Anal fissures may cause a sharp pain when you pass stool. This pain could last several minutes up to a few hours. Other symptoms include bright red blood in your stool or on toilet paper after a bowel movement. Additionally, a small skin tag or lump may be felt near the fissure.
This condition could become chronic if the pain is present for longer than six weeks. If chronic, surgery may be a recommended treatment, although not common. Although each treatment differs, one of our GI physicians can discuss the best option based on your unique situation.
- Add fiber to your diet through fiber-rich foods or over-the-counter supplements
- Take stool softener
- Drink lots of water
Take frequent, warm baths to reduce pain and alleviate symptoms. Ask your gastroenterologist about prescription medications for anal fissures.
If you're in need of relief or hesitant to pass stool, contact Cary Gastroenterology to request an appointment.