What Is Proctalgia?

Proctalgia is an extremely common condition that involves cramping pain in the anus, rectum, and lower abdominal areas. It typically affects adults over the age of 40, although it can affect people of all ages. Many people who are affected by proctalgia describe it as a sharp, stabbing, or burning pain that comes in sudden spasms. It can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and can recur multiple times throughout the day.

Possible Causes

The exact cause of proctalgia is not known, but it is thought to have a variety of causes. Some of these include:

  • Muscle spasms in the rectal area.
  • Pressure on the rectal or pelvic muscles caused by constipation, pregnancy, childbirth, or obesity.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury.
  • Hormonal changes during menstruation or menopause.

Treatment Options

Treatment for proctalgia will depend on the underlying cause. In most cases, lifestyle and dietary changes can help reduce symptoms. Some of these include:

  • Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated.
  • Doing light exercise regularly.
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding foods that may trigger proctalgia.
  • Getting enough rest and avoiding stress.
  • Managing any underlying conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease or obesity.

In more severe cases, medications such as muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories may be prescribed. In some cases, physical therapy may be beneficial. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed to resolve the issue.

Prevention Tips

There are some simple steps you can take to help reduce your risk of proctalgia:

  • Avoiding constipation.
  • Eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Managing any underlying medical conditions.
  • Managing stress and getting enough rest.