Preparing for your appointment

If you have an anal fissure, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases (gastroenterologist) or a colon and rectal surgeon.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

When you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as fasting before having a specific test. Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, even if they may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Key personal information, including major stresses, recent life changes and family medical history
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements you take, including the doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember the information you're given.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • Do I need any tests?
  • Is my condition likely temporary (acute) or chronic?
  • Are there any dietary suggestions I should follow?
  • Are there restrictions I need to follow?
  • What's the best course of action?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • Where do you feel your symptoms the most?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you have any other medical conditions, such as Crohn's disease?
  • Do you have problems with constipation?

What you can do in the meantime

While you're waiting to see your doctor, take steps to avoid constipation, such as drinking plenty of water, adding fiber to your diet and exercising regularly. Also, avoid straining during bowel movements. The extra pressure may lengthen the fissure or create a new one.

Your doctor will likely ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam, including inspection of the anal region. Often the tear is visible. Usually this exam is all that's needed to diagnose an anal fissure.

Dec. 30, 2015
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  2. Anal fissure. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.
  3. Wald A, et al. ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of benign anorectal disorders. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014; 109:1141.
  4. Perry WB, et al. Practice parameters for the management of anal fissures (3rd revision). Diseases of the Colon & Rectum. 2010; 53:1110.
  5. Nelson RL, et al. Non surgical therapy for anal fissure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.
  6. Breen E, et al. Anal fissure: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, prevention. Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.
  7. Breen E, et al. Anal fissure: Medical and surgical management. Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.
  8. Cook AJ. AllScripts EPSi. Rochester, Minn. July 15, 2015.