Are you concerned that you might have a hernia?

An estimated 2.3 million inpatient abdominal hernia repairs were performed from 2001 to 2010. So, hernias are a very common health problem. 

We’re experts in robotic-assisted surgery and treat hernia patients very regularly. In this detailed guide, we’ll explain all the hernia signs and symptoms and also provide information on diagnosis and treatment options. 

Exploring The Hernia Signs and Symptoms

A hernia is a physical injury that is usually caused by strain or over-exertion by the patient. A part of the tissue, such as muscle or internal organ such as the intestine that should usually be inside the body is moved out of position. It then pushes through a weak point or gap or injury hole, to visibly protrude. It can be seen through the skin from the outside of the body as a bulge. 

There are a lot of different kinds of hernia. The most common two are inguinal hernias and ventral hernias. They affect the wall of the abdomen and the groin. However, other types do occur. Often hernias can protrude through weak points caused by prior surgery. When a hernia occurs at a point in the body there was a prior surgical procedure, they’re referred to as incisional hernias. 

Hernia Signs

The first sign that you have a hernia might be the visible bulge at your abdomen, groin, or another part of your body that is painful when you apply pressure to it, cough, or move. In some cases, they can also be painful and pressure or attempting to push them back in can relieve pain rather than cause it. 

The next sign is that your body may not be working as well as it usually does. For example, abdominal hernias may accompany a weaker appetite or a change in digestive function. 

The final signs that you might have a hernia, aside from the bulge and a change in how your body seems to work, are that you might feel nauseated or constipated. 

A medical problem called a ‘strangulated hernia’ can become life-threatening as the blood supply is cut off due to the protruding part of the tissue. Numbness or tingling sensations should also be taken very seriously.  

Strangulated hernias usually require emergency surgery. Hernia never improves on its own. A healthcare provider should be sought as soon as possible. 

Common causes of hernias include physical exertion, obesity, pregnancy, frequent coughing, or straining on the toilet due to constipation. 

Hernia Symptoms

The symptoms of a hernia in men and women vary. Men often experience a bulge they can see or feel to the touch. They complain about an aching sensation and a feeling of pressure. There’s sometimes a tugging sensation near the testicles and a pain that gets worse with activity, exercise, or heavy lifting.

For women, there’s usually a sharp pain or an ache, a burning sensation in the area, and a bulge at the hernia site. 

But unlike men, there might not be a bulge at the groin area for a groin hernia. Like men, they also say their discomfort or pain increases with activity and heavy lifting. 

Several hernia types only affect women, such as diaphragmatic and umbilical hernias. The incidence rate of umbilical hernia among pregnant women is thankfully very low at only .08%. 

Hernia symptoms get worse if left untreated. A hernia can cause other health problems such as digestive issues and even become fatal. 

Hernia Diagnosis

To diagnose a hernia, a doctor performs an examination. They may apply pressure to the bulge or painful part and will also ask questions such as:

  • Have you been lifting heavy weights, pushing, or exerting yourself physically recently?
  • Do you have a personal or family history of hernias?
  • Have you had any surgeries in your abdominal or groin area?

The doctor may also use imaging tests such as abdominal ultrasound, abdominal CT scans, or abdominal MRI scans. These different types of tests use sound waves, x-rays, and a combination of strong magnets and radio waves to create images of the inside of your body. 

If your Dr. thinks you might have a hiatal hernia that affects your digestive system they might ask you to drink liquid barium solution so that they can see your digestion and intestines more clearly in x-ray images. An endoscopy could also be an option, which would mean they put a small camera down your throat to take a look inside your stomach. 

Hernia Treatment

Hernia treatment usually requires surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery, also known as key-hole surgery and robotic hernia repair, which also uses small incisions are the two most common. SURGCO is a leader in robotic-assisted surgery and you can get in touch with us to help diagnose and treat a hernia. 

Open surgery which requires larger incisions could also be an option. A hernia does not go away without surgery. 

Non-surgical approaches such as applying pressure to the area with bandages, a corset, or a truss may help to keep the hernia from getting worse and decrease discomfort while awaiting surgery. 

Do You Think You May Have a Hernia? 

If you are experiencing any hernia signs and symptoms it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Reach out today to schedule your first appointment with our team!

A hernia will not go away on its own, it has to be treated for you to improve. 

Would you like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Valentine? Contact us now. We may be able to help.