Treatment

Anal fissures often heal within a few weeks if you take steps to keep your stool soft, such as increasing your intake of fiber and fluids. Soaking in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes several times a day, especially after bowel movements, can help relax the sphincter and promote healing.

If your symptoms persist, you'll likely need further treatment.

Nonsurgical treatments

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Externally applied nitroglycerin (Rectiv), to help increase blood flow to the fissure and promote healing and to help relax the anal sphincter. Nitroglycerin is generally considered the medical treatment of choice when other conservative measures fail. Side effects may include headache, which can be severe.
  • Topical anesthetic creams such as lidocaine hydrochloride (Xylocaine) may be helpful for pain relief.
  • Botulinum toxin type A (Botox) injection, to paralyze the anal sphincter muscle and relax spasms.
  • Blood pressure medications, such as oral nifedipine (Procardia) or diltiazem (Cardizem) can help relax the anal sphincter. These medications may be taken by mouth or applied externally and may be used when nitroglycerin is not effective or causes significant side effects.

Surgery

If you have a chronic anal fissure that is resistant to other treatments, or if your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend surgery. Doctors usually perform a procedure called lateral internal sphincterotomy (LIS), which involves cutting a small portion of the anal sphincter muscle to reduce spasm and pain, and promote healing. Studies have found that for chronic fissure, surgery is much more effective than any medical treatment. However, surgery has a small risk of causing incontinence.

Dec. 30, 2015
References
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  2. Anal fissure. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/anal-fissure-expanded-information. 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. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003431.pub3/abstract. Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.
  6. Breen E, et al. Anal fissure: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.
  7. Breen E, et al. Anal fissure: Medical and surgical management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 17, 2015.
  8. Cook AJ. AllScripts EPSi. Rochester, Minn. July 15, 2015.