The rectum is a part of the human body that connects from the below part of the large intestine to the colon and ends at the anus. The standard length of the rectum is around 20 cm (8 inches). When the feces in the descending colon grows full, it passes to the rectum, making the urge to pass the stool.
Any inflammation, injury, or infection that happens in the anus or rectum length causes rectal discomfort. Although numerous reasons cause rectal discomfort, it can be minor that can be treated with over-the-counter meds or severe injury that need emergency medical attention.
Here are the 6 common reasons for rectal discomfort in the human body:
- Anal Fissures
An anal fissure is a rectal discomfort condition when the thinnest lining tissue around the anus tears up. It causes bleeding at the time of passing stool followed by severe pain. Majorly anal fissures happen due to chronic constipation — a passing hard stool with immense strength stretches the tissue lining and tears the skin.
One can treat average anal fissures at home with or without the help of medication, and they will disappear within six weeks. However, chronic anal fissures take more than six weeks to heal and need medical attention.
Consuming high-fiber meals and drink more water helps make bowel movements easy. Have stool softener medication to make the stool easy to pass. It helps to reduce the pain. Additionally, apply medicated cream or ointment (which you can get easily at the pharmacy) on the anus area to help it heal faster.
Another one is, Sitz Bath treatment:
- Fill the bathtub with hot water (careful, it should not be too hot) and sit for 15–20 mins.
- Do it 2–3 times of the day.
- Clean the area slowly with a clean cotton towel.
Hot water promotes healing. You may also choose to add non-iodized seas salt or baking soda, or Epsom salt. These two ingredients are known for their healing property and help in reducing the bacterial grown around the anus.
If the symptoms persist and the pain gets worsens, seek healthcare specialist advice.
Hemorrhoid is one of the common rectal discomfort conditions that involves veins inflammation developed around the anus area. It causes extreme itchiness, bleeding, and discomfort while moving around. Another common name of a hemorrhoid is piles.
Depends upon inflammation, symptoms, and discomfort condition, hemorrhoid can be categorized into two kinds — external and internal:
- External hemorrhoid involves the inflammation condition outside the anus. One can feel the lump around the outer anus area that causes discomfort and extreme pain during bowel movements. It involves itchiness, bleeding, and if it gets worse, it can cause fever, chills, and vomiting.
- Internal hemorrhoid involves the veins inflammation inside the rectum area in the body. It can only be known when the stool is passed with blood or when you spot blood cleaning the anus area; otherwise, it can be less painful.
Hemorrhoids can be caused due to bowel straining, anal sex, infection or bacteria growth near the anal area, cirrhosis (chronic liver injury), or anal fissure.
- Sitz bath is one of the effective treatments for minor hemorrhoids.
- Apply ice on external hemorrhoids for 5-10 mins and several times a day.
- Apply OTC (over-the-counter) hemorrhoids cream. Diabetes patients need to check with their physician because some creams may have reactions with some diabetes medications.
- Avoid eating spicy or oily food until hemorrhoid gets better. Spicy food may add the inflammation. Instead, add more fiber to food.
- Take stool softener medication to ease bowel movements and reduce pain.
Seek health expert advice in case of severe conditions that are mostly happening in external hemorrhoid rectal discomfort.
- IBD — Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disorder caused bleeding and inflammation in the digestive tract and entire rectum length. The symptoms include:
- Blood or mucus in stool.
- Long abdominal pain history.
- Bloating stomach or stomach acid.
- Loss of appetite.
IBD may cause vomiting, puke green, painful eyes, high fever, and joint pains in rare conditions. Depends upon the sharpness of the pain and inflammation depth, IBD may cause colon cancer and life-threatening conditions if left untreated.
Crohn’s disease. Microscopic colitis and Ulcerative colitis are the three types of IBD:
- Crohn’s disease causes inflammation inside the digestive tract lining, is often profound, causes extreme rectal discomfort, and induces internal bleeding.
- Microscopic colitis causes swollen and bleeding inside the large intestine that can be detected with the help of a microscope.
- Ulcerative colitis causes ulcers and inflammation around the colon and large intestine lining.
There are numerous reasons for IBD, including the side effects of depression medication, stress, heavy smoking habit, or immune system mistakes some food types as infection and try to fight and eliminate it causes a reaction.
IBD can be treated by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics, supplements, and vitamins in the diet.
In some extreme cases of Crohn’s disease, some people need surgery where the doctor needs to remove the infected bowel segment. While in some cases of ulcerative colitis, the surgery includes removing the colon and getting the ileal pouch to collect the stool and pass it to the anus, or an ileostomy bag connected outside the body near the belly to collect the stool externally.
- Muscle Spasm (Proctalgia Fugax)
Rectal discomfort due to muscle spasms (proctalgia fugax) happens around the anus area transfer to abdominal pain that can last up to 25–30 mins.
The reasons may vary, including post symptoms of heavy sexual activity that include menstruation, heavy bleeding, long history of constipation, or stress/anxiety/depression. Muscle spasm includes episodes of painful cramping that may cause extreme rectal discomfort and might be mistaken as passing the stool feeling.
One can treat muscle spasms (proctalgia fugax) with over-the-counter medicines, a warm bath, or lower abdominal heat pad therapy helps to reduce the pain. However, in case of severe pain and keep coming several times in weeks or months, it is advisable to consult doctors.
- Rectal Prolapse
Rectal prolapse is the rectal discomfort condition when the rectum slips out of the anus. The conditions may vary, and sometimes, when it is happening for the first time, it may return inside the anus, but it cannot naturally stick to the original position.
The symptoms of rectal prolapse are included:
- Extreme pain in the rectum and anus area
- Bleeding while passing the stool
- Feeling discomfort due to something sticky around the anus area.
Rectal prolapse happens due to several reasons:
- Injury due to accident or trauma.
- History of chronic constipation or diarrhea.
- Old age may be one of the factors due to muscles weakness around the anus area.
- Childbirth or abortion complications.
- Any other medical history — spinal cord dislocate.
- Long untreated lower back pain.
If the rectal prolapse is minor and the doctor has detected it early, it can be first treated by consuming a stool softener and pushing the rectum inside the anus. Later, the surgeon will fix the rectum via surgery.
Chronic rectal prolapse can be treated only via surgery, putting the rectum back into its natural place. The surgery is strictly recommended on the patient’s health condition, age factor, ongoing treatment, medication, etc.
- Levator Ani Syndrome
Levator Ani Syndrome is a rectal discomfort condition that happens when the muscles around the anus area — levator ani muscle is tight or relaxed. Levator ani muscle is the most significant part of the pelvic floor — that supports the vagina and uterus in women, and in men, it supports the bladder, urethra, and rectum.
If the pelvic floor muscles are tensed, too tight, it won’t store the stool, and if it is relaxed, too lose the organs which pelvic floor supporting may collapse. In both cases, the pain will grow from moderate to extreme and cause bloating, pain during passing the urine, urge to urinate more often, and painful intercourse.
The rectal discomfort caused by levator ani syndrome may spread to women’s lower back area and thighs. In men, The pain may spread to the testicle, urethra, and entire male genital area.
There are numerous reasons for levator ani syndrome, including:
- Pelvic floor injury due to sexual abuse, trauma, surgery, etc.
- History of irritable bowel syndrome or another sort of muscles spasms pain.
- Forced sexual intercourse even in painful conditions.
- Stopping the urge of urinating or bowel movements.
Over-the-counter medications and pain relievers may help to get relief from levator ani syndrome. Along with the medication, a sitz bath is one of the home treatments that helps relieve the pain. In addition, massage or physical therapy by professionals trained in pelvic floor dysfunction and kegel exercise helps in strengthening the pelvic floor.
Rectal discomfort can grow serious if left untreated for long. In major cases, over-the-counter medications and home treatment help to get relief from discomfort. However, if the pain increases and includes consistent bleeding, vomiting, high fever, you need to consult an expert medical advisor.