published Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Ask a doctor: I'm having pain in the restroom, and my doctor said I have a fissure. What can I do?

By Dr. Eric Nelson

Q: I'm having pain with every bowel movement, and my doctor said I have a fissure. What can I do?

A: Severe, cutting pain with bowel movements, like passing broken glass, is likely from a cut in the skin of the anus called a fissure. The irritation causes a spasm of the anal sphincter muscle and decreases blood supply and healing of the area. The goal of treatment is to break the spasm of the muscle to allow healing. Medical treatment is effective in many cases and includes fiber, sitz baths and local medications. Fiber bulks the stool which stretches the sphincter muscle, and sitz baths can help relax the muscle. Finally, your doctor may prescribe specific ointments that help relax the muscle. In patients who don't heal with medical treatment, surgical treatment is recommended. Various surgical options exist, and they are close to 100 percent effective.

— Dr. Eric Nelson, University Surgical Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Send your health-related questions for a medical doctor to wholloway@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6613.

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