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Suffering From Fistula? Try These 6 Exercises At Home

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

An anal fistula is a small tunnel that connects an infected gland inside the anus to an opening on the skin around the anus. Fistulas are usually the result of an infection that starts in an anal gland. While the leading causes of an anal fistula are clogged anal glands and anal abscesses, it may largely happen due to Crohn’s disease, radiation treatment for cancer, trauma, STDs, Tuberculosis and Diverticulitis.  

The symptoms of fistula include:

  • Pain and swelling around the anal opening
  • Fever
  • Tenderness and itching in and around the anus
  • Bloody or a foul-smelling discharge
  • Pain while passing stools
  • A constant sense of fatigue

These symptoms may vary based on the severity and location of the fistula. As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, you must consult a doctor immediately instead of self-diagnosing. The infection can become really bad and needs medical attention. The fistula will require diagnosis, treatment and possibly surgery. However, your doctor may recommend certain exercises to help you temporarily deal with or cope with the pain and discomfort. Anal fistulas can occur in people of any age, the average age of people with this condition is about 40. 

Swimming is one of the best exercises for people with fistula in ano as it helps reduce inflammation and increases mobility in the area. Just be sure to avoid any strokes that put pressure on your lower back or abdomen. Kegels excercises also help.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

Is exercise good for Fistula?

If you are suffering from a fistula, regular exercise can be recommended by the doctor to manage your symptoms. Strenuous exercises should be avoided. The doctor will suggest a few light exercises depending on your condition, these exercises can relax the anal muscles and ease bowel movements. Regular physical stimulation also helps lower the chances of constipation and improves circulation. Let us find out some of the right exercises for the fistula to help you cope with the pain and discomfort.

Anal fistula is commonly because of an abscess anal or the rectal region. It is more of a Quality of life issue with the patient and surgical management is usually necessitated if the fistula persists for a very long time and causes discomfort to the patient.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

6 Exercises and Yoga for People with Fistula

1. Vajrasana

Also known as the thunderbolt pose, this exercise must be started by kneeling down on the floor. You should place a yoga mat for comfort. Pull your knees and ankles together and sit back on your legs. Make sure you sit erect with your buttocks resting on your heels and your thighs resting on your calves as the big toes of both the feet touch each other. Place your hands on your knees, keep your arms relaxed, head straight, and chin parallel to the ground. Try to focus on your breathing as you slowly inhale and exhale air, in and out of your lungs. Hold this position for 5 to 10 minutes and gradually increase the time to around 30 minutes per day. This exercise has several benefits, it eases digestion and constipation.

2. Malasana 

This deep squat exercise, also known as the garland pose will help open up your hips and groin to counter the tightness you develop from sitting too much. Begin the exercise by standing with your feet apart and bending your knees, now lower your butt towards the floor into a squat position. Take your upper arms inside your knees and bring the palms together in a prayer position. Keep your spine straight, your butt moving toward the floor and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears. This posture may take some time to master but regular practice will help. Stay for five breaths, then relax and try repeating this exercise for the best results. 

3. Prapadasana 

This exercise has different variations and is recommended for fistula patients to bring awareness to the lower part of the body. You must balance your body on your toes with the heels lifted, then move on to lift one leg and take it into a lotus pose in front of the heart. The practice of the toe balance pose enhances flexibility and helps release the tensions and heaviness from your body. Keep the shoulders down and back and the sternum pressing forward. Stay in this position or you can slowly inhale the arms up over your head with the palms together. Breathe and hold for 2-5 breaths.

4. Uttanapadasana

The raised leg exercise must be done by lying down on the floor on your back with your legs straight and joined together. Rest your hands on either side with palms facing down. Inhale and raise both the legs from the ground with your knees absolutely straight and toes pointing outward. Keep raising your legs till they are perpendicular to the ground and maintain this posture for as long as you can, breathing normally. Exhale and lower your legs gradually. Regular practice of Uttanapadasana improves digestion and provides temporary relief from fistula.

5. Pavanamuktasana 

Lie flat on your back in a relaxed position to start this exercise. Inhale and bend the right knee and pull it close to the torso with both your hands. Keep the left leg flat on the floor. Hold the inhaled breath for a few seconds then exhale slowly and lift the back, shoulders and head off the floor and touch the knee with the forehead. Now hold the exhaled breath for a few seconds then slowly inhale and return back to your position, followed by doing the same with the right leg. Hold each posture for 3-5 seconds each and repeat. This will help in removing the gases accumulated in the digestive tract, relieves pain in the back or abdomen and develops elasticity in the diaphragm.

6. Siddha-asana 

This is one of the simpler sitting postures you can try, first bend the left knee and grasp the left foot with your hands and place the heel against the perineum and the sole of the foot against the inside of the right thigh. Exhale and bring your right foot, the heel of the right foot should line up approximately with the navel and be as close to the pubic area as possible. Your knees must touch the ground, place your hands on the knees, keep your spine straight and practice deep breathing.

These are some of the exercises the doctor may recommend to a fistula patient. You can try these at home, doing them regularly may keep you healthy and provide some relief by improving bowel habits. These exercises ensure normal bowel movements, improves anal sphincter control and help manage daily stress. However, if you have any orthopaedic problems it is best to first discuss them with your physician and proceed. 

Exercises to avoid for Fistula

While exercises are good for you and may provide temporary relief from fistula, it is important to understand that not all exercises are good for your condition and if you don’t perform the exercises correctly, it may even worsen your condition. Avoid strenuous exercises that tighten the butt muscles which may aggravate your symptoms.  


You must know that by lowering the factors for constipation you can reduce your risk of an anal fistula to a great extent. In order to keep your stools soft, it’s important to drink lots of fluid and indulge in regular physical exercise. You must consult a doctor at the earliest if you notice any related symptoms because the right diagnosis and treatment are necessary. If the anal fistula is neglected and left untreated, it may recur and you may have to undergo surgery.


How is an anal fistula diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine the area around the anus and look for an opening (the fistula tract) on the skin. You may have to undergo additional tests like an anoscopy, an ultrasound or an MRI of the anal area to get a better view of the fistula tract. Once a fistula is detected, blood tests, X-rays and colonoscopy may also be done. 

Is it safe for a fistula patient to do yoga?

It is always recommended to consult a certified yoga instructor and understand the correct postures that can be practised by a person based on his health status. There are several yoga postures and exercises which may be good for a person with a fistula but contraindicated for a person with back pain, joint pain, hip injury, spine-related problems, etc.

What is the ideal time to do exercises for the fistula?

The ideal time to do exercises for fistula would be early in the morning. You may start by performing the easier exercises and then proceed to more advanced poses.

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.



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