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Half of the Americans suffer from hemorrhoids at least once during their lifetime. Most people don’t seek medical treatment, but pain in your behind that prevents you from sitting comfortably is no laughing matter. Hemorrhoids are similar to varicose veins in the legs, except now we’re talking about veins in the rectum, which cause swelling, inflammation, and pain. Symptoms include anal pain, itching, and bleeding during and after bowel movements. In severe cases the veins can protrude through the rectum and become infected. The most common cause of hemorrhoids is weakness of the rectal muscles. Chronic constipation and straining can also bring on hemorrhoids or make an existing condition worse. Obesity, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, and improper diet are some of the other causes. In Chinese medicine, a variety of factors play a role in the development of hemorrhoids. Heat accumulation in the large intestine combined with a lack of fluids leads to constipation. The heat also causes swelling and inflammation of the rectum and puts excess strain on the rectal muscles and veins. A poor diet-especially one lacking adequate fiber-and emotional stress take a toll on the spleen-pancreas-stomach network, which is charged with keeping the muscles, tendons, and sphincter tissues strong. Under constant strain, the weakened tissues develop blood and energy blockages, resulting in hemorrhoids. We use acupuncture therapy to help reduce the pain and swelling, and herbal therapy-both oral and topical-to restore healthy bowel movements.

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