Definition

What is proctalgia fugax?

Proctalgia fugax is anal pain that doesn’t have a specific cause. This pain is usually caused by intense muscle spasms in or around the canal of the anus. It’s similar to another type of anal pain called levator ani syndrome. The pain is slightly different in levator ani syndrome, and may last days instead of minutes.

How common is proctalgia fugax?

Anyone can experience proctalgia fugax. However, it doesn’t usually affect anyone prior to the start of puberty and seems to affect more women than men. It’s unclear why this is, or if it’s due to more women reporting the issue, as many people don’t do so. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of proctalgia fugax?

The symptoms of proctalgia fugax are muscles spasms in or around the lower rectum area or in or around the canal of the anus. The pain or spasm happens suddenly, and usually without warning. The pain can be severe and will last for only a few seconds, although it can last up to 30 minutes in some cases. These episodes may be severe enough to keep you home from work. They may limit your other activities until the episode is over.

The pain will usually stop on its own. Patients with proctalgia fugax don’t have any anal pain between spasms. There can be long periods of time between spasms.

The pain or spasms usually occur at night and may be painful enough to wake you from sleep. They can also occur during the day.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes proctalgia fugax?

Proctalgia fugax isn’t known to have specific triggers. However, some studies have shown that it may be caused by an issue with the pudendal nerves. It often happens after an injection procedure for hemorrhoids called sclerotherapy, or after a vaginal hysterectomy.

Other possible triggers may be:

  • Sexual activity
  • Menstruation
  • Constipation
  • Stress

Despite some evidence that there are some possible triggers like those listed above, it’s also common for proctalgia fugax to occur without anything triggering it.

Proctalgia fugax and stress

Some studies seem to indicate that stress may cause the onset of spasms.

Proctalgia fugax and your period

Menstruation is believed to be a possible trigger for proctalgia fugax, but it’s unclear why. This may be one reason more women tend to have the condition than men, but that hasn’t yet been determined.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for proctalgia fugax?

Please consult your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is proctalgia fugax diagnosed?

Proctalgia fugax is normally diagnosed after other possible causes of anal pain and spasms have been ruled out. In order to rule out other conditions that may be causing the pain, your doctor may:

  • Conduct a physical exam
  • Ask questions about the pain severity, duration, etc.
  • Check for hemorrhoids, fissures, an abscess, and other diseases or conditions that might cause anal pain

Once other conditions have been ruled out as the cause of your pain, your doctor will be able to diagnose proctalgia fugax.

How is proctalgia fugax treated?

There are several treatment options, but getting relief from the symptoms is different for each person. Since there isn’t a specific cause, treatment focuses on managing the symptoms. If a trigger has been identified, then that trigger should also be managed.

If stress seems to be a trigger, then counseling may help. Warm baths and enemas of warm water may also be used in treatment. Your doctor may recommend that you apply glyceryl trinitrate or other prescription ointments.

If your spasms are severe, you may be a candidate for Botox injections in the area, or an anesthetic block may be injected locally.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage proctalgia fugax?

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

 

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: November 1, 2017 | Last Modified: November 1, 2017

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