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Hemorrhoid Treatment Blog

Anal Fissure & Anal Fistula Differences

With symptoms like bleeding and pain or itchiness in the rectal area, anal fissures and anal fistulas can be difficult to ignore. Doctors often see patients complaining of symptoms that suggest hemorrhoids, when in fact the aggravated anal tissue has become a fissure or fistula. The uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms you experience with hemorrhoids can become even worse if an anal fissure or fistula has developed. Of course, only your doctor can properly diagnose the problem. But as part of our continued efforts to keep you informed – here are some of the differences and similarities of anal fissures and anal fistulas.


What is an Anal Fissure?

An anal fissure is a tear of the skin near the anus. When constipation hits or passing a stool becomes difficult, we tend to strain and stretch the sphincter muscles. This kind of straining can cause problems like hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Most anal fissures are shallow (kind of like a paper cut) and will usually clear up within a few weeks. However, if there’s too much pressure to the sphincter muscles, the fissure could continue to get worse.


What is an Anal Fistula?

Anal fistulas are tube-like passages between the outer skin of the anus to the anal canal or inner rectum. If left untreated, the single inflammatory tract can develop into a more complex anal fistula where the tract actually branches off into multiple openings.

From bleeding to anal itching, the symptoms of anal fistulas, anal fissures, and hemorrhoids can be similar. However, in addition to discomfort or pain in the anal area, symptoms of anal fistulas include pus secretion from the anus, an increase in diarrhea, and/or an extra opening somewhere near the anus. While the more mild symptoms of an anal fistula might come and go, they could also continue to get worse. This is why any kind of pain or bleeding from the anal area should be examined by a trained physician.

If you still have questions about the difference between anal fistulas and anal fissures, or you simply want more information about the CRH O’Regan System for the treatment of hemorrhoids, contact a doctor near you!