Restless anal syndrome is an extremely rare condition that may occur after COVID-19. There has been only one reported case to date. It causes the urge to move and deep anal discomfort that does not improve with bowel movements.
Restless anal syndrome shares similarities with restless legs syndrome (RLS), as it causes an urgent need to move that only improves with exercise. Symptoms may worsen at night or when resting.
So far, there is
This article looks at restless anal syndrome and its symptoms. It also explores symptoms of COVID-19 that are more common.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restless anal syndrome is an extremely rare variant of RLS that may occur after a COVID-19 infection. So far, there has been one report of a person developing the condition.
In 2021, the journal
Treatment with antiviral and anti-inflammatory medications resolved his respiratory symptoms, but he was still experiencing insomnia and anxiety.
Several weeks after discharge from the healthcare facility, the person also began to experience deep, restless anal discomfort, which did not improve with bowel movements.
Symptoms worsened with rest and in the evening but improved with exercise. The person had not experienced restless anal syndrome before having COVID-19.
Doctors carried out a colonoscopy, which showed internal hemorrhoids, but no found other issues with the bladder or rectum. Neurological examinations found no explanation for the restless anal discomfort.
Treatment with clonazepam, a sedative, helped relieve the symptoms.
Connection with RLS
The condition in this case affected the anal area but shared similarities with RLS, so doctors named it “restless anal syndrome,” a variant of RLS that developed following COVID-19.
RLS occurs due to a problem with the central nervous system (CNS), which can affect movement and sensation.
The case study suggests that restless anal syndrome may occur if the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, spreads to the CNS and affects the nerves.
According to the case study, symptoms of restless anal syndrome include:
- a feeling of restless, deep anal discomfort, which does not improve with bowel movements
- feeling an urgent need to move
Symptoms appeared to worsen in the evening or when resting and improved with exercise.
RLS causes uncomfortable leg sensations and the urgent need to move the legs. People may feel a throbbing, aching, itching, or crawling sensation. Walking or moving the legs usually relieves the sensations temporarily.
Symptoms may occur in the late afternoon or evening and worsen at night, which can cause sleep disturbances. Symptoms may also worsen when resting or during long periods of inactivity.
In many cases, there is no known cause for RLS. However, it may occur due to the following:
- low iron levels
- atypical function in the area of the brain that controls movement
- certain medications, such as antinausea, antipsychotic, or antidepressant drugs
- nerve damage
- certain conditions, such as sleep apnea, kidney disease, or Parkinson’s
Similarities and differences
Both conditions cause the urge to move, with symptoms appearing to worsen with rest and in the evening and improving with exercise.
The fact that there has only been
RLS and COVID-19
A person may be more likely to experience RLS with COVID-19 rather than restless anal syndrome, although this still seems rare.
The 2021 case study concludes that although sleep disturbances are common with COVID-19, RLS is uncommon.
Long-lasting COVID-19 symptoms
If a person has symptoms of COVID-19, they will need to take a test. After a positive test, people
- isolate and wear a mask to protect others
- inform people with whom they have had recent contact
- monitor symptoms and seek medical help if they worsen
- contact a doctor if they are at higher risk of severe infection
People can contact a doctor about any severe or concerning COVID-19 symptoms. It is best to call 911 if a person experiences
- difficulty breathing
- persistent chest pain or pressure
- a new state of confusion
- an inability to wake or stay alert
- pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds
If people experience symptoms of restless anal syndrome following a COVID-19 infection, they can contact a doctor and explain their symptoms.
The doctor may take a medical history and perform a physical examination or tests to find the underlying cause and suggest treatment.
There is little information on restless anal syndrome, as only one case study currently exists.
In that case, the person received treatment with 1.5 milligrams per day of a benzodiazepine drug called clonazepam. This effectively relieved anal discomfort and restlessness symptoms, which continued to improve 10 months after starting treatment.
Like all benzodiazepines, clonazepam can be habit-forming, and doctors do not recommend it for long-term use.
Restless anal syndrome is a rare variation of RLS that may occur after a COVID-19 infection. It shares similarities with RLS but affects the anal area rather than the legs.
Symptoms include a deep, restless anal discomfort and the urge to move, which does not improve with bowel movements. Symptoms may worsen at night and with rest and improve with exercise. In the one case report of restless anal syndrome, treatment with a sedative was effective.
If people have symptoms of restless anal syndrome following a COVID-19 infection, they can contact a doctor for a diagnosis.