Can Exercise Cause Hemorrhoids?

Lifting dumbbell
Man lifting a dumbbell at the gym. (Image: DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images)

Hemorrhoids, or piles, are twisted, swollen, varicose veins that occur in the anus and rectum. They are due to straining or pressure in the lower abdomen and though more common following childbirth or constipation, they can also result from working with weights. Hemorrhoids cause discomfort and pain but rarely result in serious illness.

Hemorroids

Hemorrhoids are enlarged veins in the rectum or anus that are classified as either internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids form in the veins of the rectum and may bleed, while external hemorrhoids form in the anus and may become inflamed or develop clots inside them, which then can lead to painful, hard swellings. Both internal and external hemorrhoids can enlarge sufficiently to protrude from the anus.

Cause

According to the Merck Manual, hemorrhoids may be caused by frequent heavy lifting. If you regularly push or lift weights, then you may be at risk. When you lift or push something heavy, the strain can lead to increased blood pressure in the veins of your anus and rectum. Veins have thin walls with a small amount of elasticity. If the blood pressure in your veins repeatedly reaches a high level, the walls begin to bulge, do not spring back when the straining ceases and eventually hemorrhoids develop.

Signs

If you have hemorrhoids, then you may feel itching, pain or aching around your anus, which can become worse when you are working with weights. Firm, painful lumps around your anus can occur and you may also experience pain during a bowel movement. The National Institutes of Health also warns that you may see bright red blood in the toilet bowl or on your toilet tissue.

Treatment

Most hemorrhoids will get better without treatment, particularly if you stop pushing weights or significantly reduce your load. Failing this, treatments at home include creams and suppositories, which contain local anesthetic or steroids to reduce the itching and pain. The University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests sitting in a warm bath for 10 to 15 minutes, but if you have severe pain or persistent bleeding then your health care provider may recommend surgery.

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