Should I Be Concerned About Anal Fissures?

Treating anal fissures, When is an anal fissure cause for concern, The making of an anal fissure, Should I Be Concerned About

Anal fissures are a fairly common condition that can lead to moderate-to-severe discomfort, especially while defecating. But at their worst, anal fissures can cause chronic and painful problems that disrupt your quality of life.

At our practice in Pasadena, California, Dr. Gabriel Akopian is a board-certified surgeon who specializes in colorectal issues, including anal fissures. Dr. Akopian understands the many conditions that can cause anal discomfort and bleeding, and anal fissures are only one potential cause.

If you suspect you’re suffering from an anal fissure, it’s always a good idea to get checked out so that Dr. Akopian can quickly resolve the problem and rule out other causes behind your symptoms.

Here’s a look at anal fissures, including when and why they may be a cause for concern.

The making of an anal fissure

An anal fissure is an oval-shaped tear in the lining of your anus that’s typically located near the opening. Most fissures develop in the back of the anus with only 10-15% toward the front. In uncommon cases, anal fissures can develop in both areas.

The primary culprit behind these tears is hard, dry stool that rips the tissue that lines your anus as it passes through. But chronic problems with diarrhea and loose stools can also lead to anal fissures. As well, if you suffer from frequent constipation and strain when you go to the bathroom, this can result in a tear in your tissue. Rounding out the list of potential factors that contribute toward a fissure is anal sex.

When is an anal fissure cause for concern?

There are many reasons why an anal fissure can be worrisome, outside of the immediate discomfort and bleeding you may be experiencing. For example, to cope with the pain during defecation, the muscles in your anus (namely, your sphincter) become tense. Unfortunately, this defensive move by your body tends to make it more uncomfortable when you try to pass stool, and it also cuts off the blood supply to the area, thwarting proper healing.

The end result is that a one-time fissure can turn into a chronic problem, as you’re placed in a vicious cycle of slow-healing and recurrent anal fissures. To give you a better idea of what we mean by chronic, the rule of thumb is that any fissure that doesn’t heal after eight weeks is considered chronic.

Another cause for concern are the serious medical issues that include anal fissures among their symptoms, such as:

While our goal here isn’t to frighten you, if you have an anal fissure that becomes a nagging, hard-to-treat problem, we want to make sure that there isn’t something larger at play.

Treating anal fissures

Rest assured, most anal fissures aren’t problematic and typically resolve themselves with a little extra care. You should eat foods packed with fiber to promote better bowel movements, and we can supply you with topical ointments that will ease the discomfort.

If we’ve ruled out other causes for your symptoms, and we’re left with an isolated, but recurring, fissure, Dr. Akopian can address the issue with an outpatient procedure in which he injects BOTOX® into your muscles to relax your sphincter. He may also remove the weak tissue to promote faster healing.

If you’re coping with a painful and disruptive anal fissure, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (626) 788-4095.

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