Tenesmus

Definition

Tenesmus is the feeling that you need to pass stools, even though your bowels are already empty. It may involve straining, pain, and cramping.

Considerations

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

It can also occur with diseases that affect the normal movements of the intestines. Such diseases are called motility disorders.

Persons with tenesmus may push very hard (strain) to try to empty their bowels, but they pass little stool.

Causes

Home Care

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

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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

The doctor will examine you and ask questions such as:

The physical examination may include a detailed abdominal examination. A rectal examination is performed in most cases.

Tests that may be done include:


Review Date: 9/2/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.