Rectal tenesmus

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Rectal tenesmus

Rectal tenesmus is a feeling of incomplete rectal emptying.[1]

It is the sensation of inability or difficulty to empty the bowel at defecation, even if the bowel contents have already been evacuated. Tenesmus indicates the feeling of a residue, and is not always correlated with the actual presence of residual fecal matter in the rectum. It is frequently painful and may be accompanied by involuntary straining and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Tenesmus has both a nociceptive and a neuropathic component.

Often, rectal tenesmus is simply called tenesmus. The term rectal tenesmus is a retronym to distinguish defecation-related tenesmus from vesical tenesmus.[2] Vesical tenesmus is a similar condition, experienced as a feeling of incomplete voiding despite the bladder being empty.

Tenesmus is a closely related topic to obstructed defecation. The term is from Latin: tēnesmus, from Greek τεινεσμός teinesmos, from τείνω teínō to stretch, strain.


Tenesmus is characterized by a sensation of needing to pass stool, accompanied by pain, cramping, and straining. Despite straining, little stool is passed.[3] Tenesmus is generally associated with inflammatory diseases of the bowel, which may be caused by either infectious or noninfectious conditions. Conditions associated with tenesmus include:

Tenesmus (rectal) is also associated with the installation of either a reversible or non reversible stoma where rectal disease may or may not be present. Patients who experience tenesmus as a result of stoma installation can experience the symptoms of tenesmus for the duration of the stoma presence. Long term pain management may need to be considered as a result.


Pain relief is administered concomitantly to the treatment of the primary disease causing tenesmus.

See also


  1. Jawad, Noor; Skinner, Charlotte (2020). "32. Gatroentrology". Kumar and Clark's Clinical Medicine (10th ed.). Elsevier. p. 1148. ISBN 978-0-7020-7870-5. Archived from the original on 2022-05-06. Retrieved 2022-05-06.
  2. "Wrong Diagnosis". Archived from the original on 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2007-07-09.
  3. Sanchiz Soler, V.; MÍnguez Pérez, M.; Herreros Martínez, B.; Benages Martínez, A. (2000). "Protocolo de actuación ante la disquecia o el tenesmo". Medicine - Programa de Formación Médica Continuada Acreditado. 8 (7): 367–369. doi:10.1016/S0304-5412(00)70072-2. ISSN 0304-5412.
  4. Bejarano-García, A.; C. Núñez-Sousa; V. Aviñó-Tarazona; R. González-Gutiérrez (24 February 2011). "NEOPLASIA ANAL EN PACIENTE CON TENESMO". Revista de la Sociedad Andaluza de Patología Digestiva. 34 (1). Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  5. Mwenda, Aruyaru Stanley (2013). "Imperforate Hymen - a care cause of acute abdominal pain and tenesmus: case report and review of the literature". Pan African Medical Journal. 15. doi:10.11604/pamj.2013.15.28.2251. PMC 3758851. PMID 24009804. Archived from the original on 2018-08-16. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  6. Nephrolithiasis: Acute Renal Colic Archived 2011-03-06 at the Wayback Machine, Stephen W Leslie. eMedicine.

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External resources