No one likes to talk about hemorrhoids – and even fewer seek help to treat this painful condition. Indeed, from the sparse information on hemorrhoids in magazines and newspapers, one might think that hemorrhoids are rare. Actually, hemorrhoids may be one of the most prevalent ailments in the United States. In fact, more than half of the US population develops hemorrhoids by the age of 50!

It has been suggested that diets, rich in processed food and lacking in fiber, contributes to hemorrhoids. The style of modern toilet, unfortunately, encourage straining. Other factors that contribute to hemorrhoids include aging, heredity, bouts of diarrhea, and the use of laxatives. For women, pregnancy is often a factor as the fetus puts pressure on the hemorrhoidal veins.

External hemorrhoids
Rectal pain occurs mainly with external hemorrhoids. Blood may pool under the skin, forming a hard, painful lump. This is called a thrombosed, or clotted, hemorrhoid. You might also notice streaks of blood on the toilet paper after straining to pass a stool.

Internal hemorrhoids
The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is rectal bleeding. You may find bright red streaks of blood on the toilet paper or bright red blood in the toilet bowl after having a normal bowel movement. Blood also may be visible on the surface of the stool.
Other symptoms of internal hemorrhoids may include:

  • Itching. This is a frequent complaint, because internal hemorrhoids often seep mucus, which can irritate the anal skin and cause itching.
  • Skin irritation. Large hemorrhoids that bulge from the anus may secrete mucus, causing mild irritation.
  • Discomfort. You may still feel the urge to pass stool right after having a bowel movement. This uncomfortable feeling is caused by the bulging of the hemorrhoid in the end portion of the large intestine (anal canal). In general, the larger the hemorrhoid, the greater the discomfort.
  • Pain. Most internal hemorrhoids are not painful. But large hemorrhoids that bulge from the anus may become painful if they swell and are squeezed by the muscles that control the anus.

Treatment Options
Over the years, a number of treatments have been devised and used to treat hemorrhoids. Most of the time, treatment for hemorrhoids involves steps that you can take on your own, such as lifestyle modifications but sometimes medications or surgical procedures are necessary.

For persistent bleeding or painful hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend another minimally invasive procedure. These treatments can be done in your doctor’s office or other outpatient setting.

Rubber band ligation. Rubber band ligation is the non-surgical removal of internal hemorrhoids. It is the most effective minimally invasive procedure for reducing hemorrhoids symptoms and their removal. This approach is performed to eliminate existing painful hemorrhoids, associated with persistent bleeding that usually contain blood clots. Rubber band ligation is a procedure in which the internal hemorrhoid is tied off at its base with rubber bands, cutting off the blood flow to the hemorrhoid. Treatment is limited to 1 to 2 hemorrhoids at a time. Additional areas may be treated at 2-week intervals. No prep, anesthesia or hospital stay is required and most patients can return to normal activity the same day.

How Well It Works
Rubber band ligation works for about 7 to 9 out of 10 people who have it. People who have this treatment are less likely to need another treatment compared to people who have coagulation treatments. About 1 out of 10 people may need to have their hemorrhoids surgically removed. But surgery is more expensive, requires longer recovery times, and has a greater risk of complications.

Not all doctors have the experience or the equipment needed to do rubber band ligation. This may help you decide which procedure to choose. Strand GI Endoscopy Center is now offering the patented CRH O’Regan System™. This procedure treats all grades of internal hemorrhoids and can be done in our facility, without surgery and with minimal pain.