The first known mention of this affliction is from a 1700 BC Egyptian papyrus, which advises: “… Thou shouldest give a recipe, an ointment of great protection; Acacia leaves, ground, titurated and cooked together. Smear a strip of fine linen there -with and place in the anus, that he recovers immediately. In 460 BC, the Hippocratic corpus discusses a treatment similar to modern rubber band ligation: “And hemorrhoids in like manner you may treat by transfixing them with a needle and tying them with very thick and woolen thread, for application, and do not forment until they drop off, and always leave one behind; and when the patient recovers, let him be put on a course of Hellebore. Hemorrhoids may have been described in the Bible, sometimes using the obsolete spelling “emerods”.
Celsus (25 BC – AD 14) described ligation and excision procedures, and discussed the possible complications. Galen advocated severing the connection of the arteries to veins, claiming that it reduced both pain and the spread of gangrene. The Susruta Samhita, (4th – 5th century AD), similar to the words of Hippocrates, but emphasizes wound cleanliness. In the 13th century, European surgeons such as Lanfranc of Milan, Guy de Chauliac, Henri de Mondeville and John of Ardene made great progress and development of the surgical techniques.
In Medieval times, hemorrhoids were also known as Saint Fiacre’s curse after a 6th century saint who developed them following tilling the soil. The first use of the word “hemorrhoid” in English occurs in 1398, derived from the Old French “emorroides”, from Latin “hæmorrhoida -ae”, in turn from the Greek “αἱμορροΐς” (haimorrhois), “liable to discharge blood”, from “αἷμα” (haima), “blood” + “ῥόος” (rhoos), “stream, flow, current”, itself from “ῥέω” (rheo), “to flow, to stream”.
Hall-of-Fame baseball player George Brett was removed from a game in the 1980 World Series due to hemorrhoid pain. After undergoing minor surgery, Brett returned to play in the next game, quipping “…my problems are all behind me. Brett underwent further hemorrhoid surgery the following spring. Conservative political commentator Glenn Beck underwent surgery for hemorrhoids, subsequently describing his unpleasant experience in a widely viewed 2008 YouTube video.
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