A hernia is a weakness and/or defect of the strongest layer (fascia) of the abdominal muscle wall or inguinal muscle wall. Internal tissue and organs may then protrude through the hernia which may lead to the patient noticing a “bulge”. Overall, hernias are common with approximately 30% of the population developing a hernia in their lifetime, with some types more common than others.
Types of Hernias
Hernias can occur in many different parts of the body:
- Inguinal hernias are found in the groin area and are among the most common types of hernias. These conditions occur when the lower abdominal muscles are weakened and allow part of the intestine to intrude on the inguinal canal in the groin.
- Umbilical hernias are also the result of abdominal muscle wall weakness and are located around or in the belly button area.
- A ventral hernia is located in other areas of your abdomen. If part of the intestine pushes through the weakness in the muscle wall, these hernias may be very dangerous to the patient.
- Incisional hernias are located in areas where previous surgeries or injuries have occurred. These ailments can weaken the muscle wall and create the conditions in which a hernia can occur.
Causes of Hernias
Hernias are typically caused by a combination of muscle weakness and physical strain. They may be congenital, can develop quickly, or can develop gradually over a long period of time. Risk factors include:
-Family history of hernias
Symptoms of Hernias
Some hernias may cause symptoms and some may not. Not uncommonly, patients are diagnosed during a routing physical exam or with an unrelated radiologic test.
The most common symptom is a bulge or lump in the affected area that appears with certain activities, in certain physical positions, or with coughing/sneezing. The 2nd most common symptom is pain that may be described as burning, a dull ache, pressure, or a pinching sensation.
In 1-2% of patients, severe abdominal pain associated with bloating/nausea/vomiting may be an indication of an incarcerated/strangulated hernia where a loop of intestine has protruded through the hernia and become blocked/obstructed.
If you think you may have a hernia, call Dr. Rick Ngo and Texas Hernia & Surgical Specialists at (888)365-1544
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