Piles, also known as haemorrhoids, are lumps which form around your bottom (anus). But how are they caused? Piles are caused by the blood vessels inside or around your anus becoming enlarged, once these vessels become enlarged you will begin to feel symptoms. Piles often look like discoloured lumps and you may be able to feel them hanging from your anal canal.
Symptoms of Piles
Piles do not always cause pain and sometimes symptoms may be so minor that you don’t realise you have them. However, if you are experiencing symptoms, here are the telltale signs of piles to look out for:
- Bright red blood when you poo
- Discoloured lumps in/ around your anus
- Mucus or discharge in your underwear
- Feeling like your bowels haven’t been fully emptied or still feeling discomfort afterwards
- Pain and discomfort around your anus
Even though Piles may not cause you discomfort or pain, if they are left untreated there is a chance they can increase in size causing pain and even become infected. There are four grades which Piles fall under medically:
Grade 1: No prolapse
Grade 2: The haemorrhoids recede by themselves.
Grade 3: The prolapse can be pushed back manually
Grade 4: The haemorrhoids are permanently external
Different types Piles treatment that are available
If you think you have piles, certain lifestyle and dietary changes could help alleviate the condition. Choosing to maintain a high-fibre diet will help improve your symptoms as there will be less strain and the stool will be soft and easily passed.
Another way of reducing the symptoms is by making sure to keep the anal area clean. This is very important for recovery. Sitting in a bath of warm water (a sitz bath) can bring relief and use over-the-counter witch hazel wipes from a pharmacist can also help.
Methods of Piles Treatment
The first step in treating piles is to go to your local pharmacy and speak to the pharmacist. Following up on your concerns, the pharmacist will offer you advice and the next steps for your piles. Pharmacists will also be able to suggest effective treatments to help ease any swelling or itching. If you see no improvement after a week or so of treatment, you should get in touch with your doctor.
Non-surgical Piles treatment
Non-surgical treatments are available if your piles do not go away on their own. Non-surgical treatments such as RBL (rubber band ligation) could be an option for you. RBL is where a small rubber band is placed around the haemorrhoid. This practice starves the piles of blood and both the band and haemorrhoid will be discharged after a couple of days, allowing the wound to heal up.
Piles treatment surgery
The HALO technique (Haemorrhoid artery ligation operation) is a medical treatment which uses an ultrasound probe to access the anal canal which locates the blood flow into the pipe. A stitch is then made to ligate these vessels which subsequently shrivel. As this does not involve damaging the skin and is all internal it is relatively painless, is performed as a day case procedure and recovery is swift.
HALO RAR technique
When haemorrhoids become larger (grades 3 & 4) both the bleeding and the prolapse need to be addressed. A relatively recent modification of the HALO procedure called the recto-anal repair (RAR) addresses the prolapse.
A modified handpiece allows a plication stitch to pull the prolapsed haemorrhoid back into position inside the anal passage after the HALO has been performed.
Approximately 20% of patients can experience pain and spasm post-surgery. This may last a few days, but it is nearly always self-limiting and in the vast majority resolves completely.
The Rafaelo Procedure is a new treatment that utilises safe and reliable radio frequency technology to reduce, and in most cases, eliminate, the common symptoms of internal (Grade 1-3) haemorrhoids. Similar technology has been used successfully for many years to treat varicose veins in the legs, and this has now been adapted and modified for the treatment of haemorrhoids by the insertion of a special needle probe into the haemorrhoidal cushion, through which radio frequency energy is applied which aims to shrink the haemorrhoids by heating the tissue.
This procedure is a minimally-invasive and takes no longer than 15-20 minutes to perform. Some patients may choose to have a general anaesthetic or sedative for this, however, local anaesthetic is the most popular pain relief. Most patients report very little pain or discomfort, and as a reasult, the post-operative recovery time is very short.
Another treatment offered by Laparoscopic surgeons such as Mr Andrew Clarke, is a formal haemorrhoidectomy. This surgery can be used to remove internal or external haemorrhoids that are particularly extensive or severe. A formal haemorrhoidectomy is the most effective piles treatment available, however, it is important to consider that this treatment is associated with higher rates of complications.
Risks of piles treatment
As with any surgical treatment, there are risks involved. During your consultation with Mr Andrew Clarke, any risks and side effects of each treatment will be discussed in detail.