What is an Anal Fissure?
An anal fissure is a small tear or cut in the tissue that lines the anus. There is thin, delicate tissue called mucosa that makes up the lining of the anus, and it may get tears in it for many reasons such as passing large stools during a bowel movement. Typically, anal fissures cause pain with bowel movements and finding blood in your stool. An anal fissure could also lead to spasms in the muscle at the end of the anus, known as the anal sphincter.
An anal fissure is considered a chronic condition if you have had the fissure for 6 to 8 weeks, or it is a commonly recurring issue.
What are the Causes of an Anal Fissure?
Common causes of an anal fissure include but are not limited to:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Passing large and/or hard stools
- Anal intercourse
- Chronic diarrhea
A few risk factors that may put an individual at higher risk for getting an anal fissure include:
- Age- anal fissures occur more commonly in infants and middle-aged adults
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Anal intercourse
- STDs and HIV
What are the Symptoms of an Anal Fissure?
Common signs and symptoms of an anal fissure include but are not limited to:
- Pain during bowel movements
- A visible crack or tear in the skin around the anus
- Bright red blood in the stool
- Lasting pain after a bowel movement
You should contact a GI Alliance gastroenterologist if you experience any combination of these symptoms, or any of these symptoms become severe. You should always contact a doctor about blood in your stool.
What are the Possible Complications of an Anal Fissure?
Anal fissures can be very uncomfortable, but usually, do not lead to any more serious conditions. A few common complications could include:
- Failure to heal
- Recurrence of the fissure
- Tear in the surrounding muscles
You should talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding complications from your anal fissure.
What are the Treatments for an Anal Fissure?
Anal fissures will often heal on their own within a few weeks. To allow for anal fissures to heal, and prevent them from returning, your doctor may recommend:
- Maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fiber
- Avoid being constipated
- Drink plenty of water
Other treatment options may include:
- Topical ointments and creams for increased blood flow to the fissure, and pain relief
- Botox injection to relax muscle spasms
- Blood pressure medication to relax the anal sphincter
- Less common – surgery
You should talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you.