August 20, 2020

All about Hemorrhoids

For most people hemorrhoids are annoying, but can usually be cleared up with some intentional habit/lifestyle changes or home remedies. Here we discuss what they are, who’s at risk and how they can be prevented.

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around your rectum and anus, can be either painful or painless and can present themselves internally or externally. You may experience symptoms such as itching, swelling, pain and bleeding. Though there are factors that make an individual more susceptible (being pregnant is one of them), it’s imperative you avoid straining when you poop. Use optimal positioning to relax your pelvic floor by placing your feet on a stool or squatty potty, lean forward and exhale like you are blowing out a candle as you gently bear down. This will help relax your pelvic floor muscles to avoid straining, which can help to prevent hemorrhoids. But sometimes, no matter how proactive you are, you still get them!

My personal experience

Personally, I was able to escape the dreaded hemorrhoids during pregnancy and early postpartum, but around six months postpartum… boom, lucky me. Guess what happened during those six months? Lots of carrying a baby. Baby wearing on long walks and frequently around the house, lifting her up and down before she was able to move around much on her own, combined with the fact I tend to not eat as healthy or as much fiber during the winter months contributed to me finally getting them. That frequent heavy lifting and a poor diet equaled extra pressure and worse stool consistency with bowel movements which led to hemorrhoids.

Now she’s even heavier and I’m still carrying her around, but being more intentional about my fiber intake, quality of nutrition and water intake. I also had to get specific about some home remedies for itch relief/healing to finally get me in the clear of my symptoms.

How do you treat them?

  1. Improve your stool consistency.

    • Increase your fiber. A good way is to eat veggies, fruits, grains and take supplements (25-35 grams of fiber per day) with your doctor’s approval.

    • Increase your water intake! You should be drinking 8+ cups of water per day.

    • Try a CALM magnesium drink.

    • Move your body.

      • Walk for about 30 minutes a day.

      • Stretch

      • Don’t sit for too long!

  2. Improve the ease of your bowel movements with the following.

    • Diaphragm breathing. Expand your ribs 360 degrees on inhale and relax them back down on exhale. Think of an umbrella opening and closing with your breath.

    • Pelvic floor exercises. Learn about your pelvic floor muscles and have the ability to contract, relax and lengthen with ease. A pelvic floor physical therapist can help with this!

    • Sit on the toilet. Don’t hover!

    • Breathe! Exhale as you gently relax and lengthen your pelvic floor for a bowel movement.

    • Use a stool or squatty potty to get your knees higher than your hips. This helps relax your pelvic floor muscles and allows the poop to exit easier.

    • Get a regular BM routine going if you can. Try to go in the mornings or after drinking a warm beverage or having a meal.

  3. Improve the symptoms/discomfort.

    • Sitz baths

    • Ice

    • Tucks/ointments/witch hazel

    • Sit on a cushion or unweight the anus/tailbone region with towels under both of your thighs.

    • Improve breathing and pelvic floor coordination with heavy lifting (like your baby/toddler) and other daily tasks.

For most people hemorrhoids are annoying, but can usually be cleared up with some intentional habit/lifestyle changes or home remedies. If your symptoms (especially bleeding) persist past a week of trying to treat on your own, talk to your doctor to rule out other diseases or schedule a consult with a pelvic floor PT. If you do have hemorrhoids and they aren’t resolving on their own you may also consider further medical interventions such as rubber band ligation, cold laser therapy, injection, coagulation using infrared or laser, surgery or hemorrhoid stapling.

Jen Torborg, PT, DPT, CMTPT, is a pelvic floor physical therapist and author of three Amazon bestselling books: Your Best Pregnancy Ever, Your Best Body after Baby, and Your Pelvic Health. Jen treats clients in Ashland and Bayfield, Wisconsin through Orthopedic & Spine Therapy.

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