What is a hernia?
A hernia occurs when internal organs, such as intestines or other body tissues, protrude through a weakened or torn section of the muscle or connective tissue (fascia) that normally surround and contain it. Hernias most commonly occur in the groin and abdomen.
What are some types of hernias?
Hernias are named based on where in the body they occur. Types of hernia include:
- Inguinal (inner groin)
- Femoral (outer groin)
- Hiatal (upper stomach)
- Incisional (resulting from an incision)
- Ventral (abdominal wall between the breast bone and the pubic bone)
- Umbilical (belly button/navel)
- Epigastric (upper abdomen)
- Suprapubic (just above the pubic bone)
- Lumbar/flank (side of the abdominal wall)
- Spigelian (side of the abdominal muscle, below the navel)
- Diaphragmatic (diaphragm)
- Parastomal hernia (around the site of an ostomy such as colostomy, ileostomy, or ileal conduit)
What causes a hernia?
Increased pressure in the abdomen combined with a weakness or opening in the muscle or connective tissue can cause organs or tissues to protrude through the opening or weak spot.
Causes of increased pressure in the abdomen that can result in a hernia include:
- Heavy lifting
- Coughing or sneezing
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Poor nutrition
What are symptoms of a hernia?
Hernia symptoms depend on the part of the body affected, but may include:
- A bulge on the affected area that may balloon and form a sac
- Pain, usually when straining the abdominal muscles or coughing
- A pulling sensation around the bulge
- Stomach/abdominal or chest pain
- Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (hiatal hernia)
- Weakness or heaviness in the groin (inguinal hernia)
Complications of a hernia include…
Complications that can develop as a result of a hernia may include:
- Strangulation: This occurs when a section of the intestine becomes trapped and blood flow is blocked. This is a potentially life-threatening medical emergency.
- Obstruction: A section of the bowel becomes stuck in the inguinal canal and can cause nausea and vomiting, along with a painful lump in the groin.
- Gastroesophageal reflux: Hiatal hernias may cause heartburn.
What is the treatment for a hernia?
Not all hernias require immediate treatment, but some will eventually require surgery, such as:
- Open surgery, where an incision is made near the hernia and the hernia is pushed back into place. Sometimes tissue needs to be removed. The muscles or connective tissue (fascia) are sewn back together so the organs or tissue can no longer protrude. In some cases, a mesh patch is placed over the weak or torn tissue.
- Laparoscopic surgery: A few incisions are made that are much smaller than those used in open surgery. Long, thin tools including one that has a camera (a laparoscope) are inserted into the area near the hernia, and the hernia is repaired.
A hernia will go away on its own.
A hernia will not go away on its own. If a hernia is not bothersome, you may not need immediate treatment, but the only cure for a hernia is surgery.
What are home remedies for hernia pain?
The only cure for a hernia is surgery, but there are some home remedies that may relieve hernia pain before you undergo surgery.
- Apply an ice pack or a hot compress (whichever works best for you) the affected area
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese to reduce strain on the body
- Avoid foods that upset the stomach or are difficult to digest (spicy, fatty, or acidic foods, for example)
- Practice stress reduction methods such as meditation, yoga, and massage
- Reduce exercises that put strain on the abdomen
The prognosis for a hernia is generally…
The prognosis for most hernias is good. Most hernias can be repaired surgically with minor or no complications and most people can return to work in one to two weeks. If mesh is used recovery may take a little longer. Heavy lifting or strenuous exercises usually should be avoided for four to six weeks. In some cases, hernias may recur due to underlying muscle or tissue weakness, smoking, or obesity.
Images provided by:
UpToDate.com. Patient education: Abdominal wall hernias (The Basics)
UW Medicine Northwest Hospital & Medical Center. Types of Hernias.
WebMD. Understanding Hernia - The Basics.
UpToDate.com. Patient education: Hiatal hernia (The Basics)
NHS U.K. Inguinal Hernia Repair
University of Michigan Health. Inguinal Hernia: Should I Have Surgery Now, or Should I Wait?
OrganicFacts. 11 Natural Home Remedies for Hernia
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