About Hemorrhoid Pain

Overview

Hemorrhoids occur when the veins of the anus or rectum swell, causing intense pain or discomfort. Sometimes bleeding occurs. Treatment involves easing the pain immediately and reducing the swelling over time so that the pain does not continue. Hemorrhoids may also be called piles.

Types

There are a few types of hemorrhoids, defined by where they are in the body, explains the American Academy of Family Physicians. Internal hemorrhoids, found inside the rectum, don’t usually cause pain, but they might lead to bleeding from the anus. Prolapsed hemorrhoids start off as internal but move out of the anus to bulge downward. Sometimes prolapsed hemorrhoids are painless, but they may also cause pain or itching. External hemorrhoids are the most painful type and develop in the veins outside the anus. They may also crack, bleed or become itchy.

Cause

Straining during a bowel movement is the main cause of hemorrhoids and hemorrhoid pain, according to Medline Plus. Often, a hemorrhoid that is painless the rest of the time will cause intense pain when the individual tries to use the bathroom. Constipation and diarrhea both contribute to acute hemorrhoid pain as well as to the development of hemorrhoids in the first place. Sitting for long periods of time, anal intercourse and infections may also lead to the development of hemorrhoids.

Risk Factors

People who have a family history of hemorrhoids are more likely to develop the condition. Other risk factors include being overweight, spending long periods of time standing or sitting and frequently lifting heavy objects. Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy because of increased pressure on the bowels from the weight of the baby. However, even people who have none of the risk factors can develop hemorrhoids, and most people get them at some point.

Treatment

An easy home treatment for hemorrhoid pain is to take a warm bath for 10 minutes. Applying an icepack to the painful area may also help. Affected individuals should always be certain to clean the anus thoroughly after each bowel movement. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen can be used. Commercial creams or ointments containing hydrocortisone or witch hazel may also relieve pain and can reduce swelling. Injection of a chemical that shrinks hemorrhoids, burning the hemorrhoid with an infrared laser or surgically removing the hemorrhoid–either through cutting it out or encircling it with a rubber band and letting it wither away on its own–may be necessary to remove a painful hemorrhoid if other strategies do not work, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Prevention

A diet high in fiber and adequate fluid intake might prevent constipation that can lead to hemorrhoids. Individuals prone to hemorrhoids should avoid laxatives. For people who already have hemorrhoids and want to avoid pain from them, using the bathroom as soon as the urge is felt may prevent thicker and harder stools that aggravate existing hemorrhoids.

About this Author

Bridget Coila has been writing professionally since 1998 and specializes in health, science and nutrition topics. Some of her articles have appeared in “Oxygen,” “American Fitness” and “Suite 101.” Coila has a B.S. in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and 10 years of medical research experience.