What is an anal fissure?
- It is a tear in the lining at the opening of the anal canal
- This tear can cause severe pain and bleeding with bowel movements
What are the symptoms of an anal fissure?
- A sensation of “tearing or cutting” pain can occur, during and especially after a bowel movement
- Bright red blood may be seen on the toilet paper, on the stool or in the toilet water
- Spasms to the sphincter muscle may occur during and after a bowel movement
- The patient begins to fear having a bowel movement or may try to avoid having a stool due to the pain
What causes an anal fissure?
- The sphincter muscle may be too tight (have increased muscle tone)
- Hard, dry stools are usually the cause but loose stools and diarrhea due to increased frequency can also lead to a fissure
- Decreased blood flow to certain areas of the sphincter muscle causes poor wound healing
- Use of topical steroids can lead to poor wound healing
What is the treatment for an anal fissure?
- It is important to keep your stool soft, but formed and bulky with a diet high in fiber or use of stool softeners
- Topical cream that includes a medication for pain relief and one that increases blood flow is prescribed for at least 6 weeks to allow for healing
- Narcotic pain medication is not recommended due to the side effect of constipation
- Surgical treatments are only used if medical therapy is not successful