The Most Common Causes of Anal Fissures

Dec 13, 2022

The Most Common Causes of Anal Fissures

Whether you have an anal fissure and would rather not repeat the unpleasant experience or would like to prevent the condition in the first place, understanding what causes this condition is essential.

An anal fissure can be a painful condition and one that you certainly don’t want to repeat. Or, perhaps you want to better understand the problem and how to prevent it. In either case, knowing what can cause an anal fissure is important.

To help, the experienced team of colorectal experts at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery wants to focus on anal fissures in this month’s blog post.

Here’s a look at what an anal fissure is, what can cause the uncomfortable condition, and what you can do to prevent an anal fissure.

Anal fissure basics

As the name implies, an anal fissure is an opening in the lining of your anal canal, which is the bottom most area of your rectum where stool exits.

As a result of the tear, you can experience pain during and after a bowel movement and bright, red blood in your stool.

Potential causes of anal fissures

There are several ways in which an anal fissure can develop, and the following are among the more common:

Chronic constipation

If you have chronic constipation and you’re constantly straining to have a bowel movement, you’re more at risk for developing an anal fissure.

Hard, lumpy stool

If you’re dehydrated and pass a particularly hard piece of stool, it can tear the lining of your anal canal on the way out. Also, eating something that your body cannot break down properly can lead to lumpier stool than normal, and these lumps can cause an anal fissure.

Overly tight sphincter muscles

If your anal sphincter muscle is too tight, it can make passing stool more challenging and increase your risk for an anal fissure.

Anal sex

People who engage in anal sex may be more vulnerable to an anal fissure. Also, placing objects into your anus can damage the lining of your anal canal.

Having an anal fissure

Once you’ve had an anal fissure, you’re more prone to developing another one because the lining may weaken after it heals.

Treating and preventing anal fissures

Now that we better understand how an anal fissure can develop, you can work toward treatment and prevention.

For existing anal fissures, we recommend the following:

  • Increasing your fiber intake to 25-35 grams per day
  • A topical anesthetic
  • Taking a stool softener
  • Frequent sitz baths (sitting in warm water for 10-20 minutes, especially after a bowel movement)

If your anal fissure is slow to heal, we can prescribe medications that relax your sphincter muscle to prevent constipation. If you suffer from chronic anal fissures, we can perform a sphincterotomy, which boasts a 90% success rate. This procedure allows you to better control your bowel movements and gas.

To prevent anal fissures, we recommend the following:

  • Increasing your fiber
  • Staying hydrated
  • Using lubricant for anal sex

If you have more questions about anal fissures, please contact one of our offices in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, or Lansdowne, Virginia.