Anal pain has many possible causes and can range from a mild twinge during a bowel movement to excruciating pain. At Park Avenue Colon and Rectal Surgery in Murray Hill, Manhattan, Marsha Harris, MD, FACS, FASCRS, specializes in diagnosing and treating anal pain. Dr. Harris encourages you to seek help for anal pain that lasts longer than 24-48 hours and when the pain is accompanied by a fever. If you have questions, call the office in New York City, or schedule an appointment through the online booking system.

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What causes anal pain?

The anus is an opening ringed by muscles that control your bowel movements. You can develop anal pain any time the area becomes irritated or inflamed. For example, a severe case of diarrhea can damage the tissues and cause burning anal pain.

The conditions that most often cause anal pain include:

Anal fissures

An anal fissure is a tiny tear in the skin lining the anal opening. Fissures cause severe pain and bleed when you have a bowel movement. They’re also a common problem that’s often confused with hemorrhoids.

The top causes of anal fissures include constipation, persistent diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and childbirth.

Anal abscesses and fistulas

An abscess is an infected, pus-filled area. Anal abscesses usually develop in a gland near the opening of the anus, then they enlarge to cause an infection under the skin.

A fistula refers to an abnormal tunnel that develops after the abscess drains. The tunnel runs from the gland to the skin’s surface. Fistulas may discharge pus or bloody fluid, or they can close, potentially making the abscess flare up again.

Hemorrhoid thrombosis

Hemorrhoids are enlarged, bulging veins that occur when the vein walls weaken, stretch, and become filled with blood. Internal hemorrhoids form in the anus below the lining. They’re painless unless they slide out of the anus.

External hemorrhoids develop around your anus, typically appearing under the skin. These hemorrhoids are usually quite painful, especially when they develop a thrombosis, or a blood clot. Thrombosed external hemorrhoids lead to a large, extremely painful mass.

Does anal cancer cause pain?

Anal cancer develops when cells grow out of control, forming a mass that turns into cancer. The top risk factor for anal cancer is being infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus that can also cause anal warts.

When symptoms appear, you may experience:

  • Anal pain or pressure
  • Bleeding from the anal area
  • Itching or a discharge
  • A lump or swelling near the anus

Many people also notice a change in bowel habits or that their stool is narrower than normal.

How is anal pain treated?

Dr. Harris chooses from a wide array of treatments, recommending the option that’s best for the underlying cause of your anal pain. You may need dietary changes, medications, or surgery to drain an abscess, remove a hemorrhoid, eliminate a tumor, or repair a fistula.

To get help for anal pain, call Park Avenue Colon and Rectal Surgery or schedule an appointment online today.