Rather than the tongue-twister proctalgia fugax, you might know it as:

“A knife-like pain in the rectum”…

“A red-hot poker up the bum”…

“A feeling of being stabbed in the anus, which takes my breath away”…

These are just some of the descriptions that my patients suffering from proctalgia fugax give.

Somewhat surprisingly for something so unpleasant, proctalgia fugax has a pretty straightforward cause.

It’s simply a matter of the anal muscles (part of the pelvic floor muscles) going into sudden spasm. In that way it is very similar to a leg cramp, foot cramp or toe cramp that you might get in bed at night. Not so coincidentally, this is often when episodes of proctalgia fugax occur – at night. Sufferers are often sleeping soundly before they are suddenly woken by an intense pain in the rectum, where all they can do is lie completely still and attempt to breathe while they wait for it to subside. Pain relief rarely helps. It’s simply a matter of waiting until the spasm relaxes. This may take a few seconds or minutes, or up to two hours.

However, night is by no means the only time that proctalgia fugax episodes occur. It is very common to be suddenly gripped by a painful spasm while going about your daily business.

Proctalgia fugax occurs because the external anal sphincter muscle, which surrounds the anus like an elastic ring or short tube, is ‘’overactive’’. It may be that you pull in the muscle unknowingly during the day, such as when you are stressed or emotional, and the fibres of the muscle shorten. When magnesium levels drop, as they do at night, you become prone to any sort of muscle cramp or spasm – including proctalgia fugax. It is common for proctalgia fugax to occur in people who are also prone to anal fissures, constipation, tailbone pain, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pelvic pain and painful sex. (At Equilibria, we not only treat the proctalgia fugax, but explain the links with these other conditions and treat them as well.)

Many people experience a one-off episode of proctalgia fugax in their life. Because it is so distressing, if it happens more than once within the space of a few months, it should really be treated – especially because it is usually exceptionally easy to treat. Treatment involves gentle stretching of the muscles, either via the vagina or anus. Sometimes malalignment in the sacro-iliac joints is contributing and treatment dramatically reduces tendency for attacks to return.

Additionally, magnesium can not only help the muscles ‘’normalise their behaviour’’, but the right form of magnesium taken at the time of an attack can often get rid of the pain almost immediately. (Interestingly, magnesium helps chronic pain in general, and magnesium issues can also be related to bladder problems).

Recognise these symptoms? Get in touch with us today for rapid and successful treatment.

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