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Digestive Disease Center

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Proctalgia is pain due to spasm or "charley horse" of the pelvic floor muscles, the muscles of the anal sphincter, or the muscles of the rectum. Just as spasms of neck muscles cause headaches, spasms of the pelvic muscles causes proctalgia. This causes severe stabbing pain like a knife sticking into the rectum. It may pass quickly or might last much longer.

Often the pain will awaken the person at night out of a sound sleep. If the person gets up and walks around, moves his bowels, or passes gas, the pain will resolve in a matter of minutes. Some people have spasms of these muscles which lasts continuously through the day and for many weeks at a time. Proctalgia can be related to stress.

There are several treatments for proctalgia. The first is natural vegetable powder in a dose of three heaping tablespoonfuls per day. With this dose, a person should have large, soft bowel movements that stretch out the muscles and help prevent muscle spasms.

If this does not work, muscle relaxants such as Diazepam can be used to relax the muscles.

Pelvic muscle retraining may also be helpful. If voluntary muscles are in spasm, a person can be trained to relax these muscles by doing special exercises.

Another possible treatment is electrical stimulation. A small probe about the size of person's finger is inserted into the anal canal. A low voltage vibrating current is passed through the spastic muscles for approximately thirty minutes for each treatment. This may cause the muscles that are in spasm to relax.

Epidural nerve blocks help some people. For this treatment, an anesthesiologist puts a small needle into the person's back and injects a numbing solution, similar to Novocain, which numbs the nerves in the pelvic area.

The muscles of the rectum are not under voluntary control, and cannot be trained to relax. Medicines like Levsinex SL may relieve involuntary rectal muscle spasm.

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Your doctor will probably agree with you about your preference to come to MUSC. We offer excellent patient care at a state-of-the-art facility, in a historic setting in the southeastern United States. Our doctors are nationally ranked among the highest in the nation. We employ a multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of patients using the latest technology in medicine.

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