Proctalgia fugax is a medical condition which is characterized by severe rectal pain lasting for few seconds to minutes. The pain is recurrent and arises in the rectum at irregular intervals. The condition is apparently unrelated to any organic disease. The exact cause still remains unclear, however spasms in the anal sphincter are suspected to be one of the causes. The signaling in pudendal nerve goes haywire. Anxiety and stress are also suspected as the afflicting causes. The pain is sudden and sharp; it is cramp like, often occurs when the patient is in bed at night, lasts only few minutes and disappears spontaneously.
What are the Causes?
- The exact cause of proctalgia fugax remains obscure. However, it is believed to occur as a result of spasm in anal sphincter and smooth muscles of anal canal. Anal sphincter is a circular band of muscles located at the anal opening. The fault is believed to be in pudendal nerve situated in the pelvis. It sends wrong signal to the anal muscles to contract.
- Undue stress and anxiety may play a contributing role in producing pain of proctalgia fugax. Low level of potassium in the body may affect the smooth muscles of anal region.
- It may also follow after straining at stool, sudden explosive bowel action or ejaculation.
- At least 10 to 20 percent of people all over the world may have suffered from proctalgia fugax. The condition is more common between the age of 30 to 60. After the age of 45 the rate of incidence declines.
Signs and Symptoms
Most often the patient is young or of middle age who complains of excruciating pain in anus. The pain remains for few seconds or minutes. It is severe cramping pain. There are frequent episodes of such pain, but the interval is not certain. Spasm and pain in anal canal occur mainly when the patient is in the bed at night. Thus it also leads to sleep disturbance.
Patient feels the urge to defecate. Since the autonomic nervous system is also stimulated, male patients may have erection together with pain.
Proctalgia fugax has no signs and the diagnosis simply depends on the description of the symptoms presented by the patient. It is also diagnosed after ruling out other pathological causes.
Treatment and Home Remedies for Proctalgia Fugax
- As there is no specific cause known for proctalgia fugax, similarly there is no specific treatment. In majority of cases reassurance is all that heals the condition. However, to speed up the cure some of the home treatments are proved valuable. Giving pressure on the anal area helps to reduce or eliminate pain. Sitting on a hard surface helps to relieve pain.
- Warm baths and sitting in a tub containing warm water helps to reduce the spasm of anal ring.
- Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation helps to relieve stress and anxiety, both are known to produce symptoms of proctalgia fugax.
- Eat foods that contain potassium since potassium deficiency has been suspected to be the cause. Banana, avocado and raisin are rich source of potassium.
- Doctors often prescribe low dose sleeping pills as the anal pain of proctalgia fugax is felt more during sleeping.