They may not get as much attention of hemorrhoids, but in the United States, anal fissures are common, affecting nearly a quarter million people every year. The key to healing an anal fissure is to get treatment as early as possible — and that starts with learning what signs to watch for.
At his practice in White Plains, New York, (or in south Florida after September 2021) Michael Tarlowe, MD, treats anal fissures using a customized approach, helping relieve current symptoms and even prevent future fissures from happening.
Here’s what you should know about identifying and treating an anal fissure.
Anal fissures: the basics
Fissure is another word for cut or tear. With an anal fissure, that cut is in the tissue that lines your anus. Wile traumatic injury can cause a fissure in some people, more often an anal fissure is due to:
- Chronic constipation
- Large, hard, dry stools
- Very tight anal sphincter muscles
- Straining during a bowel movement or childbirth
- Crohn’s disease
- Underlying conditions, like herpes, tuberculosis, or cancer
- Diminished circulation in the area
Most anal fissures resolve within 4-6 weeks when treated with conservative options, including:
- Over-the-counter stool softeners
- Drinking more fluids
- Eating more fiber
- Taking fiber supplements
Sometimes, though, anal fissures last longer and cause more severe symptoms. In those instances, Dr. Tarlowe might recommend Botox® injections or a simple surgical procedure to relax or release an overly tight sphincter muscle, giving the area time to heal.
Anal fissure signs and symptoms
If you have an anal fissure, it’s important to track your symptoms so you can get treatment to help it go away. To do that, you need to recognize the signs of an anal fissure.
One of the most common symptoms is anal pain during and after bowel movements. Sometimes, this pain can last for a few hours after having a bowel movement.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- A visible tear near your anus
- Bleeding during or after bowel movements
- Itching or burning sensations around your anus
- A skin tag (small lump of flesh) near your anus
The symptoms of an anal fissure are comparable to those you’d experience with a symptomatic hemorrhoid. Many people wind up confusing the symptoms, delaying treatment, and causing their fissure to persist or even get worse.
Likewise, sometimes bleeding during a bowel movement can be a sign of other, more serious medical problems. Scheduling an office visit with Dr. Tarlowe is the best way to make sure you’re getting the most appropriate care for your specific needs.
Relieving an anal fissure
Anal fissures can clear up with a few simple lifestyle changes and a little TLC. But first, you need to be sure your symptoms are due to a fissure and not another medical issue.
If you’re having any of the symptoms of an anal fissure, don’t delay getting the care you need. Call the office or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.