What is the Difference Between Hemorrhoids and Fissures?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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Hemorrhoids and fissures are common problems, although many people have great difficulty talking about these conditions, even to medical professionals. While there are several similarities in these two conditions, there are notable differences as well. The primary difference between hemorrhoids and fissures is that a hemorrhoid is basically a swollen vein in the anal region of the body, while an anal fissure is a tear that occurs at the opening of the anus.

Both conditions can cause pain as well as rectal bleeding. Treatment options are basically the same for both, as well. Some of these treatments include over-the-counter creams, ointments, or suppositories. Prescriptions medications can also be used to help ease some of the discomfort caused by these conditions. Here is where the similarities between these conditions stop.

Hemorrhoids are caused when there is too much pressure placed on the veins found in the pelvic and anal areas of the body. Anal fissures, on the other hand, occur when the skin tears near the anal canal. Straining too hard when having a bowel movement is the most common cause of each of these conditions. However, it is important to realize that they are very different medical conditions.


While anal fissures are caused when the tissue on or around the anus tears, hemorrhoids can occur when either internal or external veins swell due to excess pressure. This swelling can cause intense itching along with the pain or bleeding that often occurs. Itching, however, is not a common symptom of anal fissures.

Since it is difficult for the patient to see this area of the body, it is best to obtain a correct diagnosis from a medical professional. While home treatment is generally sufficient for hemorrhoids and fissures, there are situations in which surgical intervention is the recommended course of treatment. The type of surgery will depend on the diagnosed condition as well as the severity of each individual case.

In the case of hemorrhoids that need to be surgically removed, the swollen veins are first tied in order to prevent excess bleeding. The surgeon then cuts off the hemorrhoid and applies gauze to the wound. This is generally an outpatient procedure, and recovery rates are very high.

If the patient needs surgery to repair an anal fissure, the opening to the anus is usually surgically stretched in an effort to repair the damaged tissue. There is a significant risk of anal leakage or bowel incontinence after this type of surgery. Therefore, more conventional methods of treatment, including prescription medications as well as dietary changes, are usually attempted before surgery is suggested.


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Post 3

I used the terms hemorrhoids and fissures interchangeably for years. I had no idea that they are two distinct conditions. I guess this is a common misconception because all these years, no one ever called me out on it.

I think the best hemorrhoid and fissure treatment is prevention. They're both basically caused by constipation. So if constipation is prevented, these problems should not occur.

Post 2

@fBoyle-- Do you have itching? If you do, it might be hemorrhoids. If you don't have itching and if you can feel the tear, then it's a fissure.

It doesn't really matter at this point which you have because as the article said, the treatment for both is the same. You need to eat lots of fiber rich foods, drink a lot of water and make sure that you don't strain during bowel movements. Also, you can pick up a hemorrhoids cream from the pharmacy. The ones with witch hazel or aloe vera are very good. Use it daily.

If the symptoms don't go away after a few days, then you might want to make an appointment with your doctor. But most hemorrhoids and fissures heal on their own with hemorrhoids home treatment.

Post 1

I had to strain to have a bowel movement today. I saw blood on the toilet paper after wiping. I also have a lot of pain. How do I know if I have a hemorrhoid or a fissure? I have never experienced something like this before. I'm worried.

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