What are the possible causes and treatments for rectal pain?

Symptom Database

Rectal pain, also known as anal discomfort or rectal discomfort, can be a distressing and uncomfortable symptom. It can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, burning, or bleeding. Understanding the possible causes and treatments for rectal pain is essential for finding relief and managing this condition effectively.

Causes of Rectal Pain

Rectal pain can have various underlying causes, including:

  • Hemorrhoids: Swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus can cause pain and discomfort.
  • Anal fissures: Small tears in the lining of the anus can result in sharp pain during bowel movements.
  • Anal abscesses or fistulas: Infections or abnormal connections between the anus and surrounding tissues can lead to pain.
  • Proctitis: Inflammation of the rectum can cause rectal pain, often accompanied by diarrhea or bleeding.
  • Rectal prolapse: When the rectum protrudes through the anus, it can cause pain and discomfort.
  • Sexually transmitted infections: Certain infections, such as herpes or gonorrhea, can cause rectal pain.
  • Colon or rectal cancer: In rare cases, rectal pain may be a symptom of underlying cancer.

Treatment for Rectal Pain

The treatment for rectal pain depends on the underlying cause. Here are some common treatment options:


If hemorrhoids are causing rectal pain, the following measures can provide relief:

  • Over-the-counter creams or ointments containing hydrocortisone can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Using moist wipes or taking sitz baths can help keep the area clean and reduce discomfort.
  • Increasing fiber intake and drinking plenty of fluids can help soften stools and prevent straining during bowel movements.
  • Avoiding prolonged sitting or standing can help alleviate pressure on the hemorrhoids.

Anal Fissures

To treat anal fissures and alleviate rectal pain, the following approaches may be helpful:

  • Applying topical creams or ointments that contain numbing agents can help relieve pain.
  • Using stool softeners or fiber supplements can prevent constipation and reduce the risk of further injury to the anal area.
  • Ensuring proper hygiene and avoiding excessive wiping can promote healing.
  • Applying warm compresses to the area can help relax the muscles and reduce discomfort.

Anal Abscesses or Fistulas

If an anal abscess or fistula is causing rectal pain, medical intervention may be necessary. Treatment options include:

  • Drainage of the abscess by a healthcare professional to relieve pain and prevent further infection.
  • Surgical intervention to remove the fistula and promote healing.
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat any underlying infection.


When proctitis is the cause of rectal pain, the following treatments may be recommended:

  • Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.
  • Antibiotics may be necessary if the proctitis is caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Managing underlying conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, can help prevent proctitis flare-ups.

Rectal Prolapse

If rectal prolapse is causing rectal pain, treatment options may include:

  • Manual repositioning of the rectum by a healthcare professional.
  • Surgery to repair the prolapse and strengthen the muscles of the rectum.
  • Physical therapy exercises to improve muscle tone and prevent further prolapse.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

If a sexually transmitted infection is causing rectal pain, appropriate treatment will depend on the specific infection. It is important to consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.

Colon or Rectal Cancer

If rectal pain is persistent or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention for proper evaluation and diagnosis. Treatment options for colon or rectal cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

Remedies for Rectal Pain

In addition to specific treatments for underlying causes, the following remedies can help manage rectal pain:

  • Applying ice packs or cold compresses to the area can help reduce inflammation and numb the pain.
  • Using over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can provide temporary relief.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, can help alleviate muscle tension and reduce pain.
  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing and avoiding tight underwear can minimize friction and irritation.
  • Avoiding spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol can help reduce irritation in the rectal area.

Managing Chronic Rectal Pain

If rectal pain becomes chronic or persists despite treatment, it is important to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop a comprehensive management plan. This may involve a combination of medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, and pain management techniques.

In conclusion, rectal pain can have various causes, and the appropriate treatment depends on the underlying condition. It is essential to seek medical advice for proper diagnosis and to discuss treatment options. By following recommended treatments and implementing remedies, individuals can find relief from rectal pain and improve their overall quality of life.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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