What to Do for Anal Pain

Common Causes and When to See a Healthcare Provider

Anal pain is not something that is talked about a lot, though it can be quite significant. There are a lot of nerve endings in the area of the rectum and anus, so any issues with them can result in anything from mild discomfort to excruciating pain.

Most of the time the causes of anal pain are benign, even if there is bleeding. Still, if your anal pain doesn't ease within a few days, it is essential that you get a proper diagnosis.

While this might not be a conversation you're eager to have, it's an important one. Learn the most common causes of anal pain, when to see your healthcare provider, and tips for self-care.

Common Rectal Pain Causes
Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee


While only a healthcare provider can confirm the reason behind your anal pain, there are some symptoms that can hint that a certain condition is to blame. Explore the most likely causes.

Anal Fissure

The pain associated with an anal fissure is typically located at the opening of the anus and is acute and sharp. The pain is experienced during a bowel movement but may persist over time. You may also experience anal itching as well as see bright red blood on the outside of the stool or on your toilet paper.


A hemorrhoid is a swollen, inflamed vein in the rectum or on the anus. Although some hemorrhoids can cause no symptoms, others can be quite painful. You may experience itchiness and see bright red blood in the stool or on your toilet paper.

A thrombosed hemorrhoid is an especially painful, but not necessarily serious type of hemorrhoid that involves a blood clot in the vein.

Rectal Tenesmus

Tenesmus is the urge to pass stool even when there is no more stool to pass. It is often accompanied by pain, straining or cramping. Tenesmus typically manifests itself alongside other medical conditions.

Muscle Spasms

Anal pain can also be the result of muscle spasms in the pelvic area. This manifests itself as a sharp pain that goes away quickly.

Other Causes

Pain on the outside of the anus could be the result of a yeast infection, itchiness associated with a hemorrhoid, or the result of rough cleaning of the skin on the outside of the anus.

Associated Health Conditions

Other health conditions may also be the reason behind anal pain. They include, but are not limited to:

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If your pain symptoms do not ease within a few days, make an appointment with a Healthcare Provider to get an accurate diagnosis. Seek immediate medical care if you experience:

  • Significant rectal bleeding
  • Worsening pain accompanied by high fever


While anal care certainly doesn't need to be an everyday focus, if you experience discomfort, try these tips for easing and avoiding anal pain:

  • Remember to always wash gently with warm water. Avoid soap. Gently pat the area dry.
  • Wear underwear that "breathes," such as choices made from cotton or moisture-wicking fabric.
  • Do not use any creams in the anal area other than those prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, if necessary.
  • If your anal pain is caused by an anal fissure or hemorrhoid, start taking regular sitz baths. Soaking the anus in warm water will both soothe and treat the underlying cause.
  • If you engage in anal intercourse, always use a condom. Otherwise, never insert any foreign objects into your rectum.
2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Villalba H, Villalba S, Abbas MA. Anal fissure: a common cause of anal painPerm J. 2007;11(4):62‐65. doi:10.7812/tpp/07-072

  2. Mueller K, Karimuddin AA, Metcalf C, Woo A, Lefresne S. Management of malignant rectal pain and tenesmus: A systematic review. J Palliat Med. 2019. doi:10.1089/jpm.2019.0139

Additional Reading

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.