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Relieving Chronic Constipation

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5 Tips to Talk with Your Doctor About Rectal Pain with Constipation

Medically Reviewed By Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C

Rectal pain is a common constipation symptom and may mean the tissue in and around the anus has tears that difficult bowel movements cause.


Talking about constipation can feel awkward, even with your doctor. Constipation is a common condition that means you have less frequent bowel movements or your poop feels much harder to pass. However, other symptoms may also be present.

Some constipation symptoms, such as blood in your stool or rectal pain, can prompt a doctor’s appointment. The following are some tips to make that conversation with your doctor easier and helpful in mapping out the treatment or lifestyle changes you may wish to consider making.

Tips to talk about rectal pain with constipation

The first tip to keep in mind is that you’re not alone. Constipation can affect almost anyone at any age.

About 16% of adults in the United States have constipation symptoms, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Try getting comfortable sharing various symptoms or concerns with your doctor, as they may have heard of them many times.

Read on for other tips you can try when you have that conversation.

Be specific

Your doctor can diagnose your condition and recommend an effective treatment plan by accurately understanding your symptoms.

Try describing the pain you feel. Is it a stabbing pain? A burning pain? A 2021 research review Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source suggested that a sharp pain may show the presence of an anal fissure, a small tear in the anus’ soft lining near the rectum.

The more specifically you can describe your condition, the faster your doctor can diagnose it.

Give a timeline

Share the start date of your symptoms and how often you have them. Before talking with your doctor, consider changes in your diet, medication use, or lifestyle that you made before experiencing your symptoms.

Mention home remedies you’ve tried

The NIDDK notes that drinking more water and introducing more high fiber foods into your diet are sometimes enough to ease your symptoms. Increasing your physical activity may help, too.

Tell your doctor if you’ve tried treating your constipation on your own, either through diet, exercise, or both, and taking over-the-counter laxatives.

Bring a list of medications or supplements

The NIDDK says that several common medications and supplements can worsen constipation and cause painful symptoms. Among them are:

  • antacids containing calcium and aluminum
  • anticholinergics
  • calcium channel blockers
  • diuretics
  • iron supplements
  • narcotic pain-relief medications
  • Parkinson’s disease medications, including carbidopa-levodopa

Share all current symptoms

While rectal pain and a significant change in your bowel habits may be the most concerning symptoms, avoid ignoring other symptoms Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that you may not immediately associate with constipation. Some other common symptoms might include:

  • fever
  • unexplained weight loss
  • vomiting

Fever, for example, could show the presence of an infection or a digestive disorder such as Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis.

Other symptoms that may link more closely with constipation include:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • inability to pass gas
  • loss of appetite
  • rectal bleeding

What can you do?

Consider some of the following tips to help yourself and your doctor understand and manage your condition:

  • Keep a food diary that includes what you eat and drink daily and whether certain foods cause symptoms.
  • Talk with your doctor about stopping or switching medications that may lead to constipation and painful symptoms.
  • Try getting at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise all or most days of the week.
  • Try going to the bathroom when you have the urge, but avoid straining too hard to have a bowel movement.

Frequently asked questions

When should I see a doctor about rectal pain with constipation?

If the pain is severe and not just the usual discomfort that can accompany constipation, consider making an appointment with your doctor soon. Also, the National Health Service recommends contacting a doctor if rectal pain or other constipation-related pain doesn’t ease after 3 days.

What can cause rectal pain?

Constipation is one of several conditions that can cause pain in and around the rectum. Others include hemorrhoids and anal fissures or fistulas. All of these conditions are treatable, so contact a doctor for help.

Why do I feel pressure but can’t poop?

A condition called tenesmus involves the urgent need for a bowel movement but the inability to pass much, if any, stool. Tenesmus is a constipation symptom.


When constipation involves rectal pain, talk with your doctor about treatment options. A laxative or stool softener may be enough to relieve your symptoms.

Some dietary or hydration changes may be helpful, too. If your doctor recommends prescription-strength medications or procedures to treat hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or fistulas, talk with your doctor about your treatment options, risks, and benefits.

Was this helpful?
  1. Anal pain. (2022).
  2. Constipation. (n.d.).
  3. Diaz S, et al. (2023). Constipation.
  4. Wlodarczyk J, et al. (2021). Current overview on clinical management of chronic constipation.

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Taylor Chavoustie, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2023 Dec 4
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