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Proctalgia

IntroductionOPT_womens_health

Proctalgia is pain due to spasm of the pelvic floor muscles, the muscles of the anal sphincter, or the muscles of the rectum.  Just as spasms of neck muscles cause headaches, spasms of the pelvic muscles cause proctalgia.  This causes severe stabbing pain that may pass quickly, or may last much longer.

Anatomy

This condition occurs as any type of rectal pain or pain in the rectum.

Causes

Proctalgia has no known causes.  It is thought that excessive stress can play a role in this condition.  There are also many other underlying conditions such as rectal abscesses, trauma, fecal incontinence, anal fissures, diarrhea, constipation, and more that can help lead to proctalgia.

Symptoms

The pain often occurs at night, and will sometime wake a person out of a sound sleep.  If the person gets up and walks around, moves his bowels, or passes gas, the pain will usually resolve in a matter of minutes.  Some people have muscle spasms  which last continuously through the day, and also for many weeks at a time.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of proctalgia can be made based off clinical history.  Clinically, the pain of proctalgia is different than the pain, fullness, or pressure that may be associated with other conditions such as hemorrhoids, or an anal fissure.  A doctor will need to do a careful examination of the perianal region to rule out any other issues.

Treatment

There are several treatments for proctalgia.  A doctor may prescribe you a medication such as Diazepam which is used to relax the muscles.  Also, you may be asked to try physical therapy for this condition where a therapist can train a person to relax the pelvic muscles by doing specialized exercises.  Another possible treatment that can be done by your physical therapist is electric stimulation which may allow the muscles that are in spasm to relax.

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