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Rectal Pressure: Causes & Treatment

What Is A Rectal Pressure?

Rectal Pressure is a condition in which the affected individual always has an urge to pass stools. It is quite an uncomfortable and annoying condition that even at times causes severe pain in the rectum. Anatomically speaking, the rectum lies at the end of the large intestine. Once the digestive process is over, all the unabsorbed food and other waste material collects at the large intestine and passes in the form of stool through the rectum and gets eliminated from the body through the anus. The rectum is located just below the sacrum which speaks for the close proximity of it with other pelvic organs [1].

An individual can feel increased rectal pressure due to a variety of causes which ranges from constipation to something as serious as ulcerative colitis. Thus it is important for the affected individual to get checked up for rectal pressure to identify a cause for it and start treatment. This is because conditions like ulcerative colitis or hemorrhoids if not treated can lead to serious medical complications. In many cases, the individual hesitates to discuss the situation with the healthcare provider due to embarrassment [1].

However, it should be noted that rectal pressure is quite a common problem and many people have it and thus it should not be a source of embarrassment. Additionally, rectal pressure can be easily treated once a cause for it has been identified. If an individual constantly has the problem and it recurs despite treatment then a consultation with a physician becomes mandatory to rule out other more serious causes for the condition [1].

In addition to the rectal pressure, if there is associated bleeding or other signs of infection then also a detailed assessment should be carried out and prompt treatment started. This article gives a brief overview of some of the common causes for rectal pressure and different ways to manage the condition [1].

What Causes Rectal Pressure?

What Causes Rectal Pressure?

The common causes for rectal pressure include:

Constipation: An individual is said to be constipated if he or she does not have a regular bowel movement. The individual will also have pain and discomfort when passing stools when he or she is constipated. This is because the stools become dry and hard. This in turn results in increased rectal pressure. The primary presenting features of constipation include having a feeling as if the bowels are not empty even after having a bowel movement [1].

If an individual has less than three bowel movements in a week then it is also a sign of constipation. Another presenting feature of constipation is presence of dry and hard stools which the individual finds it difficult to pass. It is quite common for an individual to suffer from constipation once in a while; however, if it becomes a chronic problem then it gives rises to complications like increased rectal pressure [1].

Hemorrhoids: This is yet another cause for rectal pressure. This condition is caused when the veins within the rectum become swollen and inflamed. There are two types of hemorrhoids, one that is external and is present around the anal opening and one that is internal and present within the rectum. While external hemorrhoids can be easily visualized, internal hemorrhoids require scope to visualize them [1].

Apart from rectal pressure, an individual with hemorrhoids will have a burning sensation when passing bowels. There will also be pain and at times bleeding from the rectum when passing bowels. The individual will have an itching sensation around the anal area constantly [1].

A study suggests that around 50% of people in the United States tend to have hemorrhoids by the time they reach 50 years of age. Constipation and pregnancy are the primary risk factors for hemorrhoids [1].

Anal Abscess: An individual is said to have anal abscess when he or she develops a bump around the anus that is filled with pus. It is normally caused due to blockage of a gland around the anal region. The blocked gland may get infected with bacteria resulting in symptoms. If this condition is not treated promptly then complications may develop in the form of anal fistula which needs aggressive treatments [1].

The presenting features of an anal abscess include foul smelling discharge from the anal canal. This will be associated with fever, pain in the rectal area, swelling, and inflammation. Anal Abscess with fistula is mostly seen in people with a known diagnosis of Crohn disease [1].

Anal Fissure: This is also one of the common causes of rectal pressure. This condition occurs when a part of the lining of the rectum or the anus suffers a tear. This is usually caused when an individual strains excessively to pass stool, as seen in severe cases of constipation. Additionally, there may also be rectal bleeding and severe pain in cases of anal fissure. This is especially when having a bowel movement after some days [1].

Fecal Incontinence: Fecal incontinence is a condition in which an individual is not able to control the bowel movement and may soil their clothes before they can reach the toilet. This is yet another cause of rectal pressure. Additionally, these individuals may also have loose stools as if they are having an episode of diarrhea. Muscle damage or injury is the primary cause of fecal incontinence [1].

An individual with this condition will find it very difficult to socialize or go out for prolonged periods of time for fear of soiling clothes in case they have a bowel movement. However, there are a variety of treatments available which can stop these episodes of fecal incontinence [1].

b This is another cause for rectal pressure. This condition occurs when the prostate which is a gland found in males that produces semen gets inflamed. While bacterial infection is the primary cause for prostatitis at times there is no known cause found. In addition to rectal pressure, an individual with prostatitis will also experience hematuria, problems with urination, increased urinary urgency, and pain in the scrotum [1].

Rectal Prolapse: This is a pathological condition in which the rectum moves out of the anus. This happens when the rectum loses the attachment that binds it to the anus. This is yet another cause for rectal pressure. The affected individual will feel as if something is popping out of their rectum when having a bowel movement. This condition is often at times mistaken for hemorrhoids and hence an accurate diagnosis is necessary for effective treatment [2].

In addition to rectal pressure, the affected individual will also complain of insensitivity of the urge to pass stool causing fecal incontinence. They will also observe mucous coming out of the stool. There will be severe pain when passing bowels. If this condition is left untreated then the symptoms tend to get worse with time [2].

Ulcerative Colitis: This is a condition in which ulcers tend to develop in the large intestine and rectum. This results in inflammation around the area. This is a chronic condition and the affected individual will have periods of remission before having a flare up of symptoms [1].

Apart from rectal pressure, the individual will also have abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, blood stains in the stool, fever, and extreme lethargy. There is no known cause for ulcerative colitis but researchers believe that people with a family history of this condition are at increased risk for having it than normal people [1].

How is Rectal Pressure Treated?

Coming to treatment of rectal pressure, it totally depends on the underlying cause. Constipation can be easily managed by home remedies or taking over-the-counter laxatives. Increasing fiber in the diet can also effectively manage constipation as it softens the stool and makes it easy for them to pass through the rectum. In some severe cases, medications may have to be prescribed to treat constipation [1].

For cases where prostatitis is believed to be the cause of rectal pressure then a course of antibiotics will be given to treat the underlying infection. For cases of ulcerative colitis, flare ups will be treated with medications for symptom relief. If rectal prolapse is found to be the cause of rectal pressure then surgery may have to be done to place the rectum back into its normal anatomical position [1].

In conclusion, rectal pressure is quite a common condition even though many individuals having it find it embarrassing to discuss it with their physicians. This condition has a variety of causes. Unless it is occasional and caused due to periodic constipation, a diagnosis should be identified by consulting with physician to begin treatment [1].

Once a cause is identified, the physician will recommend treatment options best suited for the patient. The physician will also provide ways to prevent any future recurrences. Thus it is recommended that if an individual has rectal pressure for prolonged periods of time that is not relieved by standard mode of treatment and is associated by other symptoms, then it is best to consult with a physician. This will help identify a cause for it so that the physician can formulate a definitive treatment plan for the patient [1].


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 29, 2019

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