My watch list  

Proctalgia fugax

Proctalgia fugax
Classification & external resources
ICD-10 K59.4
ICD-9 564.6

Proctalgia fugax is a severe, episodic, anal pain. It can be caused by cramp of the pubococcygeus or levator ani muscles. [1]


It most often occurs in the middle of the night[2] and lasts approximately 20 minutes, occasionally 30 minutes or longer. Because pain threshold drops during sleep it intensifies as you go to sleep and wakes the sufferer up again. Most sufferers encounter it less than 6 times a year and can go for many months without an episode. Onset can be in childhood. One study showed that men were affected more commonly than women.[3]

During an episode, the patient feels spasm-like pain in the anus, often misinterpreted as a need to defecate. Simultaneous stimulation of the local autonomic system can cause erection in males. It is a disorder of skeletal muscle, it is recurrent and there is also no known cure. It is not known to be linked to any disease process and data on the number of people afflicted varies, but is more prevalent than usually thought.

Like all ordinary muscle cramps it is a severe, deep rooted pain.

It has been reported to occur immediately following ejaculation.[citation needed]

Episodes happen almost always with an empty colon. Defaecation of any faeces present can to worsen the spasm, but may relieve it, or provide a measure of comfort. The pain might subside by itself as the spasm disappears on its own, or may persist or reoccur during the same night. At the time it can seem like 'it will never go away'.

In males there seems to be some indication that prolonged and tense sexual arousal may lead to an episode later that night.

Treatment and prevention

Traditional remedies have ranged from warm baths (if the pain lasts long enough to draw a bath), warm to hot enemas,[4] relaxation techniques,gentle massage of the anus, and various medications. None of these is effective, however.

The use of botulinum toxin has been proposed[5], as has diazepam.[6]

An episode may sometimes be avoided by making sure not to engage in sexual activity within a close time proximity to defecation. Those afflicted can usually tell after either sex or after defecation whether they would be in danger of an episode if they were to engage in the other activity, the potential onset of an episode being usually preceded by a very slight version of the pain that will eventually become much more intense.[citation needed]

Several people have expirienced relief by cold water enema. Also, moist heat, for example a warm wet towel has been reported to have more or less effect.


  1. ^ Olden, Kevin W. (1996). Handbook of functional gastrointestinal disorders. New York: M. Dekker, 369. ISBN 0-8247-9409-5. 
  2. ^ Takano M (2005). "Proctalgia fugax: caused by pudendal neuropathy?". Dis. Colon Rectum 48 (1): 114–20. PMID 15690667.
  3. ^ de Parades V, Etienney I, Bauer P, Taouk M, Atienza P (2007). "Proctalgia fugax: demographic and clinical characteristics. What every doctor should know from a prospective study of 54 patients". Dis. Colon Rectum 50 (6): 893–8. doi:10.1007/s10350-006-0754-4. PMID 17164968.
  4. ^ Olsen B (2007). "Proctalgia fugax - a nightmare drowned in enema". doi:10.1111/j.1463-1318.2007.01399.x. PMID 17949444.
  5. ^ Wollina U, Konrad H, Petersen S (2005). "Botulinum toxin in dermatology - beyond wrinkles and sweat". Journal of cosmetic dermatology 4 (4): 223–7. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2165.2005.00195.x. PMID 17168867.
  6. ^ Common Anorectal Conditions: Part I. Symptoms and Complaints - June 15, 2001 - American Family Physician. Retrieved on 2007-11-17.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Proctalgia_fugax". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE