How To Tell the Difference Between Hemorrhoids and Rectal Prolapse

hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse treatment Rectal prolapse and hemorrhoids are two conditions with symptoms that are very similar. Because of this, it can understandably be challenging to figure out which condition is behind your discomfort. The skilled team at Piedmont Colorectal Associates has the knowledge and expertise to properly diagnose your condition so that you can start receiving the appropriate treatment.


Hemorrhoids are swollen and irritated veins around the anus and lower rectum area and can be either internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are found along the walls of the anal cavity and are typically small. These small veins can get bigger and begin to bulge out of the anus. External hemorrhoids lie beneath the skin of the rectum and can feel like a hard lump when they get irritated. The condition is characterized by the extent that the veins are dilated. The condition is common in both men and women and is often caused by an increased strain on the veins. Other risk factors include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Heavy lifting
  • Chronic constipation
  • Straining during bowel movements

Rectal Prolapse

Rectal prolapse is a condition where the rectum drops from its normal location in the body and is pushed out of the anus. It is common for early-stage rectal prolapse to occur only after a bowel movement, after which it usually slides back into place by itself and is referred to as a partial prolapse. A complete prolapse occurs when the wall of the rectum slides completely out of place and remains out of place. Internal prolapse is when a portion of the large intestine moves to another area. Over the course of time, the extent of rectal prolapse can worsen and eventually require surgery.

Generally, rectal prolapse is caused by weakened muscles around the rectum. Additional risk factors include:

  • Lower back injury
  • Family history of rectal prolapse
  • Infections
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
  • Injury to the anus

Telling the Difference

Both conditions can produce similar symptoms including:

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Rectal tissue protruding from the anus
  • Mucus discharge
  • Constipation
  • Straining
  • Diarrhea

Because of the similar symptoms, it is difficult for a patient to determine the cause, which is why it is important to visit the experts at Piedmont Colorectal Associates for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Although similar, hemorrhoids and rectal prolapse require very different treatments. The top colorectal surgeons at Piedmont Colorectal Associates may recommend lifestyle changes and minimally invasive procedures, such as ligation, or surgery to treat hemorrhoids. For rectal prolapse, on the other hand, surgery is usually the only treatment option available.

Colorectal Treatment in Atlanta

If you are at risk for hemorrhoids or rectal prolapse, or if you have begun experiencing symptoms of these conditions, schedule an appointment at Piedmont Colorectal Associates. The experts here will evaluate you and recommend a treatment plan.