Anorectal pain refers to pain that is localised in the rectum (back passage) and/or anus.
What is anorectal pain?
Your rectum is where faeces are stored, at the bottom of the large intestine. The anus is the bottom of the rectum and is the end of your gastrointestinal tract.
Anorectal pain is any pain that is in this area. It is a common condition and while you might feel upset or embarrassed about it, you should not be afraid to speak to your consultant.
What are the symptoms of anorectal pain?
The symptoms of anorectal pain can vary depending on what is causing it. You may experience either a dull aching pain or severe, sharp pains, particularly after a bowel movement. The pain may be worse when you sit down.
Depending on what is causing your anorectal pain, you may also experience:
- Rectal bleeding
- Redness or swelling
- Feeling as though there is a lump in your anus or around it
- Pus or blood in your stool
- A fever
What causes anorectal pain?
There are a variety of causes of anorectal pain, some being more serious than others. Some causes of anorectal pain include:
- Anal fissures
- An abscess or sores (either internal or external)
- Anal fistula
- Inflammatory bowel diseases (e.g. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)
- Anal cancer
- Anal trauma (including anal sex)
- Pruritus ani – anal itching
- Constipation and complications associated with it
- Muscle spasms
These are not all the causes of anorectal pain. You should speak to your consultant to determine what exactly is causing your specific anorectal pain.
How is anorectal pain diagnosed?
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should speak to your consultant. You might feel embarrassed, but you shouldn’t be. Anorectal pain is a common issue that consultants are accustomed to diagnosing and treating.
At your appointment, your consultant will ask about your symptoms and will most likely conduct a physical examination of your anorectal area. In certain cases, they will be able to diagnose what is causing your anorectal pain without further investigation, however if necessary, they may also recommend that you undergo:
- A rectal examination
- A proctoscopy (where a small plastic tube is inserted into the anus in order to see the inside of the anal canal)
- A colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy
How is anorectal pain treated?
The treatment for anorectal pain will depend upon what is causing it. Treatment for anorectal pain can include:
- Creams or ointments
- Lifestyle adjustments (e.g. eating a more high-fibre diet, using unscented soaps)
These are not all the treatments for anorectal pain. You and your consultant can decide which treatment they think will work best for you based on what is causing your anorectal pain.
If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.