Rectal spasms (proctalgia fugax) can cause pain in the rectum. The
cause of the spasms is unknown. Most people who have rectal spasms have
episodes of sharp pain or severe cramps that last from several seconds to
several minutes. The episodes may occur several times a year.
Both men and women can be affected. It is uncommon in children
before the age of puberty. People with abdominal problems, such as peptic ulcer
disease or irritable bowel syndrome, are more likely to have rectal
Other symptoms that may occur with the spasms are nausea, sweating,
and feeling restless when the pain is present.
Treating rectal spasms is not easy to do, because most spasms don't
last long enough for any treatment to work. Some people find relief by pushing
on the anal area with their hand or by sitting across (straddling) something
like the edge of the bathtub or a bike seat. Soaking in a warm bath may help,
but usually the pain goes away before the bathtub is filled. If you have severe
spasms, talk to your doctor.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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