What Is a Hernia?

A hernia is the protrusion of an internal body part through a muscle or surrounding tissue. This can happen through a rupture, tear, or weakness in the structure.

What are the Different Types of Hernias?

Hernias can occur in both men and women of all ages, as well as in children.

Inguinal hernias

Hernias tend to be much more common in men, occurring most often in the groin area where the abdominal folds meet the thighs. These are known as inguinal hernias. This is due in part by the normal descent of the testicles into the scrotum. This creates an area in the groin where abdominal tissue can protrude if it does not close properly.

Inguinal hernia are more likely to be found in children, with the large majority of these occurring in boys.

Hernias during pregnancy and childbirth

Women may be more prone to develop hernias at the top of the thigh (the femoral area), often resulting from the strain of pregnancy and childbirth.

Umbilical hernias

These are most commonly seen in infants. These generally appear as a protrusion in the naval area. Umbilical hernias in infants are less troublesome than other types of hernias, since they tend to close without any treatment by the time the child is 3-4 years old.

How Do I Know I Have One?

Generally, you will notice a small lump somewhere in the groin or abdominal area. Many hernias are reducible; that is, the tissue can be pushed gently back into its normal place. If you notice a bulge that does not resolve or you develop pain at the site, you should seek medical treatment.

Are They Dangerous?

If left unattended, the protrusion through the hole or gap can cause increasing amounts of pain, as more of the abdominal tissue pushes through the gap. As long as the hernia is reducible, it is not considered dangerous, but it can still put pressure on the surrounding tissue. A non-reducible hernia can become life-threatening if a part of the bulging tissue becomes trapped and circulation is cut off to the tissue.

Will It Heal by Itself?

Unfortunately, no. With the exception of umbilical hernias in infants, hernias will not go away on their own. It can take months or even years to worsen. If you suspect that you or your child has a hernia, it should be checked by a doctor because of the possible danger of strangulation.

In the short term, reducing strenuous physical activity, losing weight, and/or wearing a truss can lessen the discomfort caused by a hernia. Ultimately, the only way to fix a hernia is with surgery.

Less Cutting, Faster Recovery

Where you choose to go for surgery is important, and so is the type of surgery you choose. Minimally invasive surgery can mean shorter hospital stays, a faster recovery and less pain.

During Laparoscopic Hernia Repair, a surgeon inserts small instruments, including a tiny video camera, through small holes made in the abdominal wall. The doctor performs the surgery while viewing the hernia on a TV monitor. They may or may not use mesh to help fix the damaged area.

Get Help with Your Hernia

Our team is here to help you get back to doing the things you love to do, with the people that love you. To find a leading general surgeon, visit our online physician directory or call Consult-A-Nurse at 478-746-4646.