If you have hemorrhoids, a flare-up can be painful (not to mention itchy). Many people wonder what the best thing to do is to deal with the pain. Does walking make hemorrhoids worse?
No. Walking too much cannot cause hemorrhoids.
If you have a flare-up, depending on the location of the swollen hemorrhoids, walking may make your pain and other symptoms worse by putting pressure on them. However, walking in itself does not cause hemorrhoids. On the contrary, being inactive is a risk factor for the condition.
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Hemorrhoids are typical anatomic structures within the anal canal, helping with continence, among other functions. Repetitive or prolonged straining sometimes causes stress on these vascular hemorrhoids, disrupting the supporting tissue with subsequent elongation, dilation, and engorgement leading to hemorrhoid disease.
The risk factors for hemorrhoids include:
There are two main types of hemorrhoids: internal and external.
Internal hemorrhoids are within the distal anal canal above the dental line. However, it can protrude beyond the anal canal. On the other hand, external hemorrhoids are below the dentate line in the distal anal canal.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids may include:
A burning sensation in the anus
Discomfort while sitting
A feeling as if the bowel is not empty
Mild fecal incontinence (mucus or stool emerging by accident, particularly when passing gas)
Internal hemorrhoids are graded by protrusion:
Grade 1: Limited protrusion within the anal canal
Grade 2: Protrudes beyond the anal canal but spontaneously reduces on cessation of straining
Grade 3: Protrudes outside the anal canal and reduces fully on manual pressure
Grade 4: Protrudes outside the anal canal and is irreducible
Regular exercise supports good bowel health and can prevent hemorrhoids from developing in the first place.
Aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking for 20 to 30 minutes daily, stimulates bowel function. However, avoid wearing tight leggings or pants, as they can make protruding hemorrhoids more uncomfortable.
If you have hemorrhoids, you should avoid any activity that strains the anus. These activities include:
Sitting on the toilet for extended periods, including reading on the toilet
Lifting heavy boxes
Small hemorrhoids typically go away after a few days and can be treated at home. Increasing the fiber in your diet can help eliminate hemorrhoids and keep them from coming back.
This may be the only treatment that is needed. However, taking a “sitz bath”—a shallow, warm bath—can help relieve symptoms.
If you have hemorrhoids that protrude outside the anus (i.e., lumps after passing stool), you should talk to a doctor, as your hemorrhoids might require treatment.
Grades 1 and 2 hemorrhoids and some Grade 3 hemorrhoids can be treated with an office-based procedure. The most common is rubber band ligation, in which your doctor will position the rubber band around hemorrhoid to cut off the blood flow and destroy the hemorrhoidal tissue.
Sclerotherapy and infrared coagulation can also be used for treatment, especially for some Grades 1 and 2 hemorrhoids that are too small to ligate.
Severe hemorrhoids may require surgical intervention, called a hemorrhoidectomy, in which the hemorrhoid is removed with a scalpel. Talk to your doctor about exercise before or after these treatments.
You may need to rest after the hemorrhoidectomy. However, moderate exercise will help prevent your hemorrhoids from returning once you have recovered.
Many creams and medications are marketed to relieve the pain and itching of hemorrhoids. You should be careful with these products. Hydrocortisone cream on the outside of the anus helps relieve itching, but do not use them for longer than recommended, as they can make your skin atrophy.
You can get a suppository for internal piles, but these can be complicated to use.
Avoid steroids for more than a week. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve or are returning immediately after using a home remedy. Topical creams are also the symptomatic treatment and will not treat hemorrhoids but only relieve symptoms.
There are two key factors to prevent hemorrhoids and prevent them from coming back. However, rates of recurrence are low.
Consuming enough fiber to avoid constipation is essential to reduce strain on the toilet. Constipation is strongly linked to hemorrhoids. You should also make sure to stay hydrated, as well as avoid excessive straining.
Moderate aerobic exercise helps keep your bowels healthy and reduces constipation. This is, of course, in addition to the other benefits of exercise. And yes, walking is great.
It’s also important not to stay too long on the toilet. Reading in the smallest room may be attractive, but you should not remain on the toilet once you have finished your bowel movement.
People prone to hemorrhoids and constipation may benefit from taking a stool softener or a fiber supplement.
It is a myth that walking too much can cause hemorrhoids. In fact, regular brisk walking can improve bowel health and reduce your risk of getting them.
However, walking will also not cure your hemorrhoids. If they are protruding, particularly painful, or do not go away quickly, you should talk to your doctor about treatment.