Hemorrhoids are a collection of nerves, connective tissue, veins and arteries in the anal wall that often enlarge over time and cause severe pain and discomfort. In certain cases hemorrhoids prolapse, or fall outwards from the anus, which increases the pain associated with the condition.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- Bleeding from the anus, especially after bowel movements
- Irritated skin
- Burning or itching around the anal wall
- Rectal pain or discomfort
Hemorrhoids are a common problem, but for many the pain is mild and does not require any medical treatment. For others, the pain associated with enlarged hemorrhoids is severe and requires medical attention. In certain cases, hemorrhoids are an indication of other, more severe conditions such as ulcers or rectal tumors.
Treatment for Hemorrhoids
Rubber band ligation, or hemorrhoid banding, is one of the leading medical treatment options for hemorrhoids. During a hemorrhoid banding procedure, the hemorrhoid is tied at its base with rubber bands that are intended to cut the flow of blood to the hemorrhoid. As the hemorrhoid is cut off from additional blood flow it will shrink and ultimately fall off after several days. A scar will form where the hemorrhoid previously was, and this will cause all nearby veins to stay in place and avoid any future formation of a hemorrhoid in that location.
Rubber band ligation is an outpatient procedure that is performed in your doctor’s office. In order to perform the hemorrhoid banding procedure your physician will use an anoscope. The anoscope is a tool that provides your gastroenterologist with images of the problematic area while also assisting with the banding process by grasping the hemorrhoid and placing the rubber bands around the base of it.
In order for the hemorrhoid banding procedure to work properly the rubber bands must be placed on the hemorrhoid very tightly. For many people the discomfort of the bands themselves is mild, but if you feel that they are extremely painful your physician will be able to numb the banded hemorrhoids to relieve the discomfort. Your physician will be able to treat up to two hemorrhoids during a single appointment. If you have more hemorrhoids that require treatment you will need to wait up to six weeks to allow your anal wall time to heal before repeating the procedure.
The amount of recovery time necessary after hemorrhoid banding depends largely on the size and position of the hemorrhoid within the anal wall. Many patients will be able to return to their regular activity the day of their procedure, while others may require several days of bed rest. For the first 48 hours following your rubber band ligation you are likely to experience moderate discomfort. Over the counter pain medications such as Tylenol are likely to help relieve the pain. Also, warm shallow baths will help to soothe the irritated area during this time. To prevent any further discomfort following your hemorrhoid banding procedure, try taking stool softeners or increase your fiber intake to help ensure smooth and painless bowel movements.