A fissure is another name for a tear or cut. You even come across fissures in the natural world – fissures can describe cracks in rocks.
But in medical jargon, if you, a friend or a family member have been diagnosed with a fissure then you need to know what kind. It can be confusing when there are several similar sounding conditions such as annular fissures
, anal fissures
and even anal fistulas
What is an annular fissure?
An annular fissure or tear occurs in the spine when the tough exterior of an intervertebral disc rips or tears. These discs do a great job of providing cushioning between the vertebrae - with support to the bone structure of the neck and back - while also acting as shock absorbers.
With all our daily and physical activities, you can imagine they have to work really hard. If too much stress is placed on a disc (either from continually performing everyday activities like sitting and standing or from sudden trauma) an annular tear can form.
That tough exterior (or annulus fibrosus
) consists of several layers, each one of which can suffer from tears or fissures. How and where these tears occur can give the annular fissures a different name.
Different types of annular fissures
Peripheral tears are those occurring in the outer fibers of the annulus fibrosus and most often are as a result of trauma or injury. More serious, these tears can lead to the breaking down of the intervertebral disc itself.
Concentric tears can also be caused by injury and occur when a tear appears between the layers of the annulus fibrosus circumferentially.
Radial tears are the final and more common type of tear because they are typically as a result of aging and wear and tear. In this case, radial tears begin at the center of the disc and extend all the way through the outer layer of the annulus fibrosus. They can lead to further complications.
Diagnosing and treating an annular fissure
Pain and discomfort in the lumber region usually means seeking medical advice from a doctor or specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment. There are several treatment options available, usually beginning with low-impact exercises, hot or cold compresses, pain remedies, limited rest and more. These include:
- Epidural injections
- Pain patches
- Deep tissue massage
- Spine alignment correction
- Ultrasound treatment
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation treatment
If, and in spite of other treatment, the pain continues then spine surgery may be recommended.
What is an anal fissure?
An anal fissure is a break or a tear in the anal canal. They can tell you they are there when you experience a sharp knife-like pain when using the toilet to have a bowel movement. This pain can continue afterwards for a few minutes or much longer. Some people describe the sensation as like being "cut by glass". In some, anal fissures can be very itchy so that this almost becomes the main symptom and can be caused by the very sensitive area in which anal fissures occur. They are usually accompanied by bleeding when bright red blood is noticed on the toilet tissue or toilet bowl.
Constipation is one of the causes of anal fissures, leading to hard stools which are difficult to pass and putting a strain on the skin of the anus. the tears caused cannot heal until the problem of constipation is addressed - along with natural remedies for anal fissures. Other causes can include the straining during actual child birth.
There are two rings of muscle which control the opening of the anus and if the stool is to pass through comfortably then both these muscles need to relax. While the external anal muscle tenses and relaxes freely, the internal muscle does not. The pain of the anal fissure may cause the internal anal muscle to go into spasm, raising the pressure within the anus. This pressure then makes it harder to pass a stool resulting in worse constipation and so a vicious cycle begins.
Anal fissures treatment and prevention
Natural treatment for anal fissures requires checking bowel movement habits and avoiding constipation so that the bowel movements become smaller and softer. Changing to a diet which is high in fiber and includes fresh (and preferably raw) fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and taking a very temporary bulk laxative or stool softener will all help. Frequent warm baths or just sitting in a bowl of water will help to relax the anus while ice packs or cotton wool pads treated with witch hazel are soothing and comforting to the affected anal area.
In addition, Healing Natural Oils provides a 100% safe, gentle and natural treatment for anal fissures with its product H-Fissures
- produced from pure essential oils.
And finally a few words about an anal fistula
We touched on this condition at the beginning so here is more. An anal fistula is a small channel that develops between the end of the bowel, known as the anal canal or back passage, and the skin near the anus. The anus is the opening where waste leaves the body. Some types of fistula have one channel, whereas others branch out into more than one opening. The fistula ends can appear as holes on the surface of the skin around the anus. This condition could be confused with an anal fissure because it is also painful and can cause bleeding when you go to the toilet. Some fistulas can be connected to the sphincter muscles (the rings of muscles that open and close the anus).
Common symptoms include:
- Skin irritation around the anus
- A throbbing, constant pain that may be worse when you sit down, move around, have a bowel movement or cough
- A discharge of pus or blood when having a bowel movement
It is wise to see your doctor for a diagnosis who will (if necessary) refer you to a specialist in bowel conditions, for further investigation.
Whenever you have troubling and painful symptoms, it is always best to contact your doctor so that you have a definite diagnosis and know what you are dealing with. Then once you have this information, you can make a decision about following a natural route for treatment if possible.