The term Proctalgia fugax refers to fleeting anorectal pain. It often occurs in the middle of the night and can last a variable amount of time; generally from a few seconds to 30 minutes. Many sufferers encounter it less than 6 times a year.
The pain can sometimes accompany the urge to defaecate (without success) or be associated with an erection (in males).
There is no known cause for proctalgia fugax, but it is thought to be related to a muscle spasm of the rectum. There is also no known cure.
There are remedies which range from warm baths (if the pain lasts long enough to draw a bath), relaxation techniques, and gentle massage of the anus. It has been suggested that salbutamol may shorten the duration of attacks, although its effectiveness in this capacity remains unproven.
Sedatives and antispasmodic drugs have been used to obtain pain relief.
After the onset of an episode, the most comforting measure to combat the pain is often to attempt defaecation for as long as the pain lasts, even if defaecation will not occur.