If you have a hernia or think you may have one then you probably have some concerns. To help provide clarity, we’ve answered seven of the most common questions we get asked about hernias.
- What causes hernias?
- What are the different kinds of hernias?
- What are the symptoms of a hernia?
- How are hernias treated?
- Are hernia trusses necessary?
- What is surgical mesh for hernias and is it safe?
- Can there be complications from hernias?
1. What Causes Hernias?
You can be born with a hernia, or develop one later on in life. Hernias are caused by pressure inside the body forcing tissue or organs up through:
- A pre-existing opening
- Weakened muscle tissue
- Weakened connective tissue
The pushing of the organ to another location causes bulging under the skin.
The pressure that results in a hernia can have different causes. A common cause for those occurring later in life is lifting heavy objects incorrectly. Proper lifting involves your back, which helps stabilize your abdominal muscles and protects your core.
Other common causes of hernias include:
- Constant sneezing
- Coughing too hard
- Constant heavy lifting
Hernias can also be the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. For instance, smoking, poor diet, and obesity can all cause you to be more likely to develop a hernia.
Click here to learn more about hernias!
2. What Are the Different Kinds of Hernias?
Hernias come in three main types that are categorized based on where the herniated tissue or organ is located. Some are more common in adults than in children, although anyone can develop these hernias.
The three most common types of hernias are:
- Inguinal hernia
- Umbilical hernia
- Hiatal hernia
Inguinal hernias are one of the most common types that people develop. They’re caused by an organ that pushes through the abdominal muscles and into the lower abdomen. This type can be especially painful when lifting a heavy object, bending over, or even coughing. They tend to present on the groin with a bulge on either side of the pubic bone.
Umbilical Hernias are the result of the intestine pushing through an opening or weak tissue near your belly button. Infants tend to get them more than adults, Adults, on the other hand, often require surgery. These hernias are visible around the navel and tend to be painless. However, seek medical attention immediately if you experience vomiting or pain.
Hiatal hernias develop when your stomach is pushed up into the same opening your esophagus passes through (the hiatus). These hernias can differ in size, which can influence the treatment you receive. Small hiatal hernias often go unnoticed with minimal symptoms. Large ones can result in more noticeable symptoms and may require treatment.
While these are the most common types of hernias, there are others that it’s possible to develop. This includes ventral, Spigelian, and incisional hernias.
3. What Are the Symptoms of a Hernia?
Hernia symptoms can vary depending on the type. The most common symptom is a bulge or lump under the skin in the affected area. These bulges can disappear depending on your position. They may go away while laying down but become visible when you’re standing, bending, or coughing.
Hiatal hernias have more specific symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty swallowing
In many cases, hernias may not have symptoms. This is because they can be so small that they’re only picked up during a routine physical or other medical exams.
4. How Are Hernias Treated?
The hernia treatment you receive will vary depending on the type you have and where it’s located. Smaller hernias may not require surgery. In this case, your doctor may choose to monitor your symptoms and see if they become worse before recommending surgery.
Surgery is the best method for repairing a hernia and your surgeon will work with you to create a treatment plan. Based on your condition, they will either recommend minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, open surgery, or robotically-assisted surgery.
All of our board-certified general surgeons are qualified to perform hernia repairs:
We have several surgeons trained in open, laparoscopic, and robotic hernia repairs.
Click here to learn more about robotically-assisted surgery!
5. Are Hernia Trusses Necessary?
Hernia trusses are used when you have an inguinal hernia (in the lower abdomen). These trusses or belts are worn as an undergarment to prevent bulging and help relieve the discomfort that comes along with it.
But are they necessary?
Hernia trusses can provide temporary relief for your hernia symptoms. Your doctor may recommend one to help relieve your symptoms temporarily, but they are not a cure. If your symptoms progress to the point that you need a truss then it may be time to consider surgery.
6. What Is Surgical Mesh for Hernias and Is It Safe?
Surgical mesh is a special implant used in the treatment of hernias. They can be made of different materials, but all are used to support damaged or weakened tissue. There have been recalls of them in the past which leads patients to question whether surgical mesh is the right choice for them.
As with all medical procedures, there is always some risk when undergoing surgery. Fortunately, the most complication-prone forms of mesh have been removed from the market. This leaves it up to you and your surgeon to decide if surgical mesh for hernias is the best choice for you.
7. Can There Be Complications From Hernias?
It is possible to develop complications from a hernia. Incarcerated hernias occur when the contents inside the hernia become trapped inside the muscle, requiring immediate medical attention. This type of hernia can become strangulated without treatment.
Other serious complications from hernias include:
- A sudden increase in pain
- The bulge turning a dark, red color
If you experience any of these symptoms then call your doctor or 911 immediately. They’re signs that something is seriously wrong and that you require immediate medical treatment.
Our surgeons are here to help with your hernia treatment. Call us at (812) 424-8231 or (800) 264-8231 to schedule your appointment!
Hernias are caused by pressure inside the body forcing tissue or organs up through a pre-existing opening, weakened muscle tissue, or weakened connective tissue. There are three main types — inguinal, umbilical, and hiatal. The most common symptom is bulging under the skin, although other symptoms can vary depending on the type of hernia.
Small hernias can be monitored for changes with surgery being the ideal treatment. Hernia trusses can be helpful but are no substitute for surgery. Problematic surgical mesh has been removed from the market, but you should still discuss using it with your surgeon. Complications with your hernia can occur if it isn’t treated correctly.
Evansville Surgical Associates has been providing comprehensive and compassionate surgical care for over 50 years. Call us at (812) 424-8231 or (800) 264-8231. We are available from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm if you would like to schedule an appointment.