What is hernia pain?
A hernia is a medical condition when organs, tissues, or intestines start pushing through their surrounding connective tissues. While hernias typically occur in the abdominal wall, they can also appear in other parts of the body.
Hernias can become painful and cause a bulge-like appearance because of additional pressure from bending over or lifting something heavy. It is a good idea to seek advice from a doctor if you find yourself experiencing hernia pain along with other symptoms.
Abdominal hernias are a common occurrence across different age groups. However, men over 40 are more likely to have the condition. It’s possible for you to be born with a weakness in your muscles or tissues that develops into a hernia later in life.
Signs and symptoms of a hernia
You can have a hernia without experiencing any pain. One of the first signs that people may notice is a bulge appearing in the affected area. It may only appear when you perform an action like coughing or jumping. The bulge may disappear when you lie down. Other symptoms of a hernia can include:
Types of hernias
You can determine the type of hernia you have based on where it forms.
There are two different types of inguinal hernias:
- Direct: A direct inguinal hernia results from a weak spot developing in the lower muscles of your belly
- Indirect: Indirect inguinal hernias occur when the inguinal canal, which is an opening in the abdominal wall, does not close properly before you are born
Femoral hernias appear in the upper part of the thigh, around your groin area. It’s often caused by the bowel pushing through a tear or other weakness in the abdomen. This hernia form can prevent blood from making its way to the herniated bowel.
Umbilical hernias develop around the belly button in babies. They form when part of the intestine loop pushes through a small opening in a fetus’ abdominal muscle, called the umbilical ring. Most umbilical hernias close naturally by the time a child reaches the age of five.
Incisional hernias typically happen when tissue protrudes from the site of a surgical scar that still needs to heal. While they usually cause less severe complications than other types of hernias, you will need to have surgery to repair the condition.
Epigastric hernias are usually the result of tissue pushing through your abdominal wall in the area between your breastbone and belly button. They usually occur when there is a problem that keeps your abdominal muscles from properly coming together. Epigastric hernias are more likely to appear in males.
Causes of a hernia
Besides the causes for specific types of hernia, weakened abdominal muscles and connective tissues are the most common reasons why hernias form. Risk factors that could increase your chances of developing a hernia include:
Diagnosis for a hernia
You should visit a doctor if you notice any unexplained bulges or experience more severe symptoms like hernia pain. They may be able to detect the hernia by performing a physical exam. They may also order additional tests to determine the extent of your current condition, including:
Treatments for a hernia
The recommendations your doctor might offer to treat your condition will depend on your health and the hernia type. They might ask you to make lifestyle changes like eating healthier and getting more exercise to see if anything changes. Your physician may also prescribe medications that can help you manage your hernia symptoms.
If other methods fail, your doctor might present you with options for surgery. The two forms of surgery typically use to treat hernias include:
- Laparoscopic surgery: Your surgeon makes small cuts in the hernia area to allow access to repair the hernia
- Open repair surgery: More involved hernias may require the surgeon to make larger cuts to access the full hernia
Doctors typically place a surgical mesh in the hernia area to provide additional support to the muscles and tissues. A hernia can reoccur after a surgery. You should inform your doctor of any continuing hernia pain.
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InformedHealth.org: "Hernias: Overview."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Umbilical Hernia."
KidsHealth: "Epigastric Hernias."
Mount Sinai: "Femoral hernia."
Mount Sinai: "Incisional Hernias."
News in Health: "Battling a Bulging Hernia."
Radiopaedia: "Direct inguinal hernia."
U.S. Food & Drug Administration: "Hernia Surgical Mesh Implants."