Medical Encyclopedia


Medical Encyclopedia

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Contents of this page:


Lower digestive anatomy
Lower digestive anatomy

Alternative Names    Return to top

Pain - passing stool; Painful stools; Difficulty passing stool

Definition    Return to top

Tenesmus involves constantly feeling the need to empty the bowels, along with pain, cramping, and straining.

Considerations    Return to top

Tenesmus usually occurs with inflammatory diseases of the bowels. These diseases may be caused by an infection or other conditions.

People with tenesmus feel as though they need to pass stool. Although they strain, they pass little stool.

Causes    Return to top

Home Care    Return to top

If you feel that you are constipated, try to increase your fluid and fiber intake.

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

Contact your health care provider if you continue to have symptoms of tenesmus that are constant or come and go.

Also call if you have:

These symptoms could be a sign of a disease that might be causing the problem.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit    Return to top

The doctor will examine you and ask questions such as:

The physical examination may include a detailed abdominal examination. A rectal examination-- and prostate check for men -- is performed in most cases.

Tests that may be done include:

Update Date: 8/22/2008

Updated by: Christian Stone, M.D., Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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