A man sits on a couch and clutches his side in pain

Could It Be a Hernia? Know the Symptoms

A sudden onset of pain, sometimes accompanied by a bulge, weakness, or burning, could be a sign of a hernia. But what exactly is a hernia, and what can you do about it? Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What Is a Hernia?

The muscles in your body that help you move and perform bodily functions have another purpose you might not have thought about: keeping your organs in place. A hernia occurs when your muscles tear or naturally gap, allowing one of your organs to push through the hole. There are several types of hernias, including:

  • Inguinal Hernia. Occurring most commonly in men, an inguinal hernia occurs when the small intestine pushes into the inguinal canal in the groin. You might notice a bulge around your groin, as well as experience pain, a burning sensation, or weakness.
  • Hiatal Hernia. Occurring most commonly in people over 50, a hiatal hernia happens when the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm into the stomach cavity. This type of hernia can result in acid reflux, chest pain, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Incisional Hernia. When you have surgery, the resulting incision site tends to be weak for a while. Your organs might push through this weakened tissue, resulting in an incisional hernia, which occurs mainly in the abdomen. You might have a visible bulge that grows when you lean over or cough, as well as some discomfort.

Are Hernias Preventable?

Unfortunately, hernias aren’t entirely preventable, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing one. These activities can also help you lead a healthier life overall. To reduce your risk of developing a hernia, consider the following tips:

How Do Doctors Treat Hernias?

Hernias won’t heal themselves, so your doctor will likely suggest surgery. Traditionally, doctors would perform open surgery to repair hernias. This entails opening up the body near the hernia site, moving the organ back to its proper location, and closing the hole with sutures or surgical mesh. Doctors now tend to perform laparoscopic surgery, as it typically has a shorter recovery time and is less likely to result in infection.

Tammy Lee, MD, general surgeon at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group, describes the ins and outs of robotic hernia repair in the video below.
 

If you think you might have a hernia, schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician. They can diagnose your condition, suggest lifestyle changes, and even refer you to a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group general surgeon for hernia repair.

Sources:
Healthline | Hernia
NIDDK | Inguinal Hernia
Everyday Health | How to Prevent a Hernia
Medical News Today | Types and treatments for hernia