Health A to Z
Anal pain (pain in the bottom) can be distressing, but is often just the result of a minor, treatable condition.
The medical name for pain in and around the anus or rectum (back passage) is proctalgia.
This pages covers:
An anal fissure is a small tear in the skin of the anus that can be caused by passing a large or hard poo.
Symptoms of an anal fissure can include:
Anal fissures can be very painful, but many heal on their own in a few weeks. Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, drinking plenty of fluids and taking laxatives and over-the-counter painkillers can help.
If the pain persists, you may need special ointment that relaxes the ring of muscle around your anus. Occasionally, surgery may be needed to help the fissure heal.
Read more about treatments for anal fissures.
Haemorrhoids (piles) are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels that are found inside or around the bottom. They're often thought to be caused by straining on the toilet as a result of prolonged constipation.
In many cases, haemorrhoids don't cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
The symptoms often pass after a few days. Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, drinking plenty of fluids and taking laxatives and over-the-counter painkillers can help.
If the blood supply to the haemorrhoid has been blocked by a clot, a simple procedure can be carried out to remove the clot under local anaesthetic (where the area is numbed).
Read more about treatments for haemorrhoids.
An anal fistula is a small tunnel that develops between the end of the bowel and the skin near the anus. It's usually caused by an infection near the anus resulting in a collection of pus (an abscess).
Symptoms of an anal fistula or abscess can include:
If a fistula develops, surgery will usually be needed because they rarely heal by themselves.
Read more about treatments for anal fistulas.
Less common causes of anal pain include:
Many common causes of anal pain will improve with simple self-care treatments, so you don't always need to see your GP.
But it's a good idea to see your GP if:
Don't feel embarrassed to see your GP – anal pain is a common problem that they're used to seeing. Your GP can try to work out what the problem is and give you treatment advice.
They'll probably ask to see your bottom and may carry out a rectal examination (where they gently insert a gloved finger into your bottom) to check for any abnormalities.
If the cause is not immediately obvious, they may refer you to a specialist for advice and further tests.