The key difference between rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids is that rectal prolapse occurs when a mucosal or full-thickness layer of the rectum slips outside through the anal orifice, while hemorrhoids occur when swollen and enlarged veins are formed inside and outside of the anus and rectum.
Rectal pain is the discomfort that takes place in the lower part of the digestive tract. This term is often used interchangeably with the term anal pain. It is fairly a common problem throughout the world. The causes are rarely life-threatening. The symptoms may include itching, stinging, discharge, or bleeding. It has different causes, including minor injury, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, hemorrhoids, sexually transmitted infection, muscle spasm, anal fistula, perianal hematoma, tenesmus, and inflammatory bowel disease. Rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids are two main causes of rectal pain.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Rectal Prolapse
3. What are Hemorrhoids
4. Similarities – Rectal Prolapse and Hemorrhoids
5. Rectal Prolapse vs Hemorrhoids in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Rectal Prolapse vs Hemorrhoids
What is Rectal Prolapse?
Rectal prolapse occurs when the body loses the attachments that usually hold the rectum in the correct place in the gastrointestinal tract. This causes the rectum to protrude out from the anal orifice. This is a very rare condition. It is more common to observe this condition in adults, especially in women. Women over age 50 are six times more likely to suffer from rectal prolapse than men. Moreover, the average age of a woman with rectal prolapse is 60, while the average age of a man with rectal prolapse is 40. In addition to rectal pain, rectal prolapse may also cause a mass of tissue extending from anus, stool or mucus freely passing from anal opening, fecal incontinence, constipation, bleeding, etc.
The reason for rectal prolapse is unclear. It is usually associated with childbirth in women. Certain risk factors such as sex and age may also increase the risk of rectal prolapse. This condition can be diagnosed through digital rectal exams, anal manometry, colonoscopy and defecography. The treatment normally involves surgery. Other remedies include therapies for constipation such as stool softeners, suppositories, and other medications.
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids occur when swollen and enlarged veins are formed inside and outside of the anus and rectum. Hemorrhoids are a very common cause of rectal pain. Hemorrhoids are also called piles. Every 1 in 20 Americans has symptomatic hemorrhoids. It is more common in people over 50 years of age. Moreover, hemorrhoids are of two types: internal and external. When swollen veins form inside the rectum, it is internal hemorrhoid. When the swollen veins form underneath the skin around the anus, it is external hemorrhoid. Normally, straining puts pressure on veins in the anus or rectum, which causes hemorrhoids.
The risk factors include excessive weight, pregnancy, chronic constipation, regularly lifting heavy objects, strain while having bowel movements, etc. The typical symptoms may include bleeding, itchy anus, slimy mucus in underwear, lump around the anus, pain around the anus, etc. This condition can be diagnosed through digital rectal exams, anoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy. Furthermore, treatments include rubber band ligation, electrocoagulation, infrared coagulation, sclerotherapy, and surgical procedures such as hemorroidectomy, hemorrhoid stapling. Other remedies include applying lidocaine, hydrocortisone in affected area, drinking plenty of water, increasing fiber intake, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain, etc.
What are the Similarities Between Rectal Prolapse and Hemorrhoids?
- Rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids are two main causes of rectal pain.
- People over 50 years of age are at risk in both conditions.
- Both conditions have similar symptoms, such as rectal pain, constipation, and bleeding.
- They are not life-threatening conditions.
What is the Difference Between Rectal Prolapse and Hemorrhoids?
Rectal prolapse occurs when a mucosal or full-thickness layer of the rectum slips outside through the anal orifice, while hemorrhoids occur when swollen and enlarged veins are formed inside and outside of the anus and rectum. Thus, this is the key difference between rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids. Furthermore, rectal prolapse only affects the rectum region of the digestive tract, while hemorrhoids affect both rectum and anal regions of the digestive tract.
The below infographic lists the differences between rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Rectal Prolapse vs Hemorrhoids
Rectal pain is a fairly common problem that causes discomfort in the lower part of the digestive tract. Rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids are two main causes of rectal pain. Rectal prolapse occurs when a mucosal or full thickness layer of the rectum slips outside through the anal orifice. Hemorrhoids occur when swollen and enlarged veins are formed inside and outside of the anus and rectum. So, this is the key difference between rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids.
1. “Rectal Prolapse: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Surgery.” WebMD.
2. Kahn, April. “Hemorrhoids.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 5 Jan. 2021.
1. “Prolapse of the rectum Wellcome L0061308” By Welcome Images (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Internal and external hemorrhoids” By WikipedianProlific and Mikael Häggström – File:Hemorrhoid.png by WikipedianProlific (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia