It starts during a bowel movement, causing sharp or burning anal pain that may last several minutes or a few hours. The discomfort with anal fissures is so unbearable you may do everything possible to avoid pooping.
At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Town and Country, Missouri, our board-certified family physician, Dr. Betsy Clemens, knows how hard it is to manage life with an anal fissure.
Though it takes time for the tear to heal, there are some things you can do to ease your anal fissure pain.
Why are anal fissures unbearable?
An anal fissure is a tear in the tissue that lines your anal canal, the muscular tube that opens to eliminate stool stored in your rectum. Trauma to the tissue causes the anal tear, usually from straining when passing hard stool or having frequent watery bowel movements.
When you have an anal fissure, you may experience sharp pain during and after a bowel movement. The pain may radiate into the buttocks or back and last several minutes or a few hours.
Anal fissures cause unbearable pain for a couple of reasons. First, the anal tissue is naturally sensitive, and anal discomfort is expected when problems affect the tissue, like an anal fissure or external hemorrhoids.
Second, the anal tissue tear exposes the anal sphincter muscle. When you poop, the anal sphincter muscle spasms, intensifying the pain. The muscle spasms also pull on the tear, hindering the healing process.
Relieving the discomfort
Holding in your poop is the worst thing you can do for your anal fissure. Instead, you must add fiber and fluids to your diet to soften your stool. You can also try over-the-counter (OTC) stool softeners. When you feel the urge to poop, find the nearest toilet and go.
After pooping and gently wiping, soak your bottom in a tub of warm water — a sitz bath — for 10 to 20 minutes to soothe the tissue and relax the sphincter muscle. Repeat the soaking three times a day.
We can also prescribe medications to reduce the anal discomfort, like lidocaine cream or nitroglycerin ointment (to relax the anal sphincter). Most anal fissures heal within a few days or a few weeks.
When anal fissures don’t heal
If your anal fissure fails to heal within eight weeks, you may need more invasive treatments to reduce muscle spasms so your tear can close. Botox® injections or a surgical procedure that cuts the muscle (internal sphincterotomy) are the primary treatments for chronic anal fissures.
There’s no need to suffer through the pain of an anal fissure. We can evaluate your injury and create a plan to ease your discomfort and speed up the healing process. Call our office at 314-669-2758 today to schedule an appointment with our expert.