Dealing with an anal fissure can be painful. The condition is common in people with constipation. Constipation causes hard or large stools to tear the lining of the anal canal. If left untreated, the initial tear can turn into an ulcer.
There are several other reasons as to why you may develop this painful condition. These include pregnancy, childbirth, continuous diarrhoea, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), meanwhile, believes that anal fissures are caused by dryness and heat in the large intestines, and excessive strain during bowel movement.
Let’s discover how Chinese New Year celebrations relate directly to anal fissures and the steps you can take to prevent or treat the condition effectively.
The Reasons Behind an Anal Fissure During Chinese New Year
Most delicacies you eat during the festival are symbolic of longevity, wealth and good luck. However, these foods can also be high in calories and unhealthy fats. Consumption of these foods will increase the chances of you experiencing constipation or diarrhoea.
Risk factor #1: Constipation
It’s normal to be lax about practicing a healthy lifestyle during the Chinese New Year festivities. Unfortunately, these habits can spur constipation and consequently, anal fissures. Drinking less water, eating low-fibre foods, and not getting enough exercise can make bowel movement difficult. Changes to your daily routine – more travelling, overeating, sleeping at odd times – can also induce constipation.
Risk factor #2: Diarrhoea
Separately, excessive consumption of fried or spicy foods during Chinese New Year can upset your digestive system and trigger an occurrence of diarrhoea. A food allergy or intolerance towards certain foods can also make you susceptible to episodes of the condition.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent or Treat an Anal Fissure
The primary goal of clinical therapy is to reduce the pressure on the anal canal. One way to do this is to ease the discomfort and bleeding by making your stools soft.
TCM, on the other hand, aims to treat anal fissures by clearing heat to dispel dampness, reducing swelling with anti-inflammatory herbs for detoxification and lubricating the intestines to smoothen bowel movements.
Ultimately, various modalities can be used conjunctively to help you avoid or recover from this condition.
Consume herbal formulations to remedy constipation
A wide range of herbs are available to treat constipation. You can use rhubarb (Dahuang, 大黄) for heat-type constipation. Angelica sinensis (Danggui, 當歸) disperses cold and tonifies the blood of people with cold-type constipation. It can also unblock the bowel and moisten the intestines. Astragalus root (Huangqi, 黃芪) and Codonopsis (Dangshen, 党参) helps regulate defecation by tonifying the body and digestive system’s qi (vital energy). Eu Yan Sang physician Kong Teck Chuan supports the use of a Sophora flower formula (Huaihuasan, 槐花散) for those who experience blood in their stools. Lotus root can also help clear heat, and improve digestion and bowel movements for those who experience haemorhoids (piles).
Use topical applications to aid the healing process
A physician will usually prescribe creams, foams, or suppositories that contain hydrocortisone to reduce inflammation. They may also recommend a medicated cream to promote healing, topical muscle relaxant to loosen the anal muscles, or anaesthetic ointment to reduce pain.
The physician can also suggest nitroglycerine or calcium channel blockers to speed up healing by increasing blood flow to the affected area. In some cases, they may inject botulinum toxin type A (Botox) into the anal sphincter. This paralyses the muscle to relieve pain and stimulate healing.
Undergo acupuncture to improve post-surgery bowel movement
Topical applications can sometimes fail to heal the internal anal sphincter muscle. This is the result of scarring or muscle spasms. Hence, you may require surgery, a procedure called lateral internal sphincterotomy (LIS), which involves cutting a small portion of the anal sphincter muscle to reduce spasms and pain and promote healing. Then, you can consider acupuncture and moxibustion to achieve pain relief and improve defecation.
Take the findings of a study, for example. Acupuncture was applied to the Zhongliao (BL 33) and Xialiao (Bl 34) points for five days after surgery. Polyethylene glycol 4000 was administered orally, whereas suspended moxibustion on the Changqiang (GV 1) point was also applied within 10 minutes after a bowel movement. After three days, there were vast improvements in a person’s willingness to defecate.
Cleanliness and a healthy lifestyle can help you fend off an anal fissure during or after Chinese New Year. You must have good hygiene habits, drink enough water and eat a nutritious, fibre-rich diet. If the condition does develop, take comfort in knowing that multiple treatment options are available. Do speak to a clinical and TCM physician beforehand. Doing so can help you identify potential side effects of medication or herb use.
- NHS. Anal fissure. [Accessed 17 January 2022]
- TCM TREATMENT. TCM China: Anal Fissure And Traditional Chinese Medicine in China. [Accessed 17 January 2022]
- Cleveland Clinic. Constipation. [Accessed 17 January 2022]
- Cleveland Clinic. Diarrhea. [Accessed 17 January 2022]
- HOLISTIC ANTI-AGEING PROJECT. Constipation Types and Remedies in Chinese Medicine. [Accessed 17 January 2022]
- Cleveland Clinic. Anal Fissures. [Accessed 17 January 2022]
- National Library of Medicine. 2013. [Influence of acupuncture and moxibustion on defecation in postoperative patients of anal fissure: a randomized controlled trial]. . [Accessed 17 January 2022]