A hernia occurs when there is a weakness or tear in the muscles, most often in the abdominal wall, that allows organs or fatty tissue to protrude through the opening. This can cause a noticeable bulge under the skin as well as pain and discomfort. Symptoms can feel worse when you stand for long periods or if you strain such as when lifting heavy objects. Hernias are a common ailment and can affect men, women and children of all ages; it is estimated that more than 700,000 hernia repairs are performed each year and that many other people suffer from hernias that do not get diagnosed and corrected.
The signs and symptoms of hernias vary depending upon the location of the hernia, the type of hernia, and the general health of the patient. Some people don’t notice their hernia but most often a person with a hernia will feel a lump, and / or tenderness and pressure, when bending, coughing or straining. The lump may be easier to feel when standing up. In most cases a physician will be able to feel or see a bulge that indicates the hernia location but in some circumstances, particularly when the patient is overweight, the physician may need to run additional tests.
For a person with no symptoms their physician may discover a lump in the groin or abdomen during a medical exam. In small children a parent may notice a lump when the baby cries or coughs, or strains during a bowel movement.
Hernia symptoms can include:
Only your physician or hernia specialist can properly diagnose whether the symptoms that you are experiencing are related to a hernia.
A hernia may be the result of a weakness in the abdominal wall that may have been present from birth, a strain or tear, or result from previous surgical incision. Some conditions may increase the pressure against the abdominal cavity and cause a muscle to tear and a hernia to form, or will make an existing hernia worse. Causes and risk factors can include:
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