Does walking help hemorrhoids pain or make it worse?

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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Causes of hemorrhoids

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:

  • Chronic constipation

  • Frequent diarrhea

  • Older age

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Pregnancy

Types and symptoms of hemorrhoids

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:

  • Pain

  • Bleeding

  • Mucus discharge

  • 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

Can walking ease the pain from hemorrhoids?

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.

Activities to avoid hemorrhoids

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

  • Weightlifting

  • Lifting heavy boxes

  • Cycling

  • Horseback riding

How to treat hemorrhoids

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.

Rubber band ligation

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

Sclerotherapy and infrared coagulation can also be used for treatment, especially for some Grades 1 and 2 hemorrhoids that are too small to ligate.

Hemorrhoidectomy

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.

Pain relief creams and medications

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.

How to prevent hemorrhoids

There are two key factors to prevent hemorrhoids and prevent them from coming back. However, rates of recurrence are low. 

Diet

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.

Exercise

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.

The lowdown

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.

Curious about clinical trials for Hemorrhoids?

Researchers are studying thousands of new treatments and you could be a part of finding a cure while accessing the newest treatments for Hemorrhoids.

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