Proctalgia Fugax and Anal Pain - Symptoms

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 09 Jul 2017

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Dr Helen Huins, 09 Jul 2017

Proctalgia fugax is thought to be quite common. Up to one in five people may experience it at some point. Levator ani syndrome is less common, affecting around 6 in 100 people.

Proctalgia means pain around the back passage area. Fugax is a Latin word meaning fugitive or fleeting. So it describes a short-lasting pain in the back passage. Pain occurs on several occasions over a few weeks, each time lasting only seconds or minutes. It is a sudden, cramping, severe pain. It may wake you in the night. You may find you get a cluster of attacks together. In many people who get this condition, the attacks do not happen very often. In between episodes, there is no pain at all. Proctalgia fugax does not cause any bleeding.

Often there is no reason, but the pain can be triggered in some cases by the following:

  • Having sex
  • Opening your bowels
  • Being constipated
  • Having a period
  • Stress

The levator ani is a muscle. It is part of the pelvic floor group of muscles, and is the muscle group around your anus and rectum. If you have levator ani syndrome, you get an aching pain high up in your back passage. It tends to be worse when you are sitting down, and walking around can make it feel better. The pain is constant or regular, and lasts (unlike proctalgia fugax) for longer than 20 minutes. It continues, either constantly or on and off, for months.

Levator ani syndrome is also known as chronic anal pain syndrome.

Further reading and references

I have had this problem since my late teens or early 20's. As I get older (now 56) this pain is coming much more frequently.The pain generally comes when I am sitting or in bed, which is fortunate...

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