Hernias are a bulge in an organ or your tissue typically located in your intestines or stomach. These are a common medical occurrence that is treatable by a medical professional at All Women’s Care and can often be diagnosed without imaging or lab tests.
A hernia most often occurs when your organ pushes through an opening in a tissue or muscle that is intended to hold it in place. While they are typical in your stomach or intestine, they can also occur in your hips and chest areas. A hernia usually is not a life-threatening medical issue, but they will not go away on their own. Check with your doctor at All Women’s Care as you may need surgery to prevent the hernia from causing dangerous complications to your health.
The most common symptom of a hernia will be the sign of a lump or bulge in the area where it has developed. If you have an inguinal hernia, you will notice a bump on the side of your pubic bone or where your thigh meets your groin.
An inguinal hernia develops in the abdomen near your groin. These hernias occur when fatty, intestinal tissue pushes through a weak spot in your abdominal wall close to the left or right inguinal canal. Your inguinal canal is located at the base of your abdomen.
Women and men have an inguinal canal. For women, the inguinal canal is in the passage for the round ligament of the uterus; in men, the testes typically descend through the canal a few weeks before they are born. If a hernia develops in this area, it can be painful and result in a protruding bulge.
Many do not seek medical treatment for these hernias as they are small and often do not present symptoms. If there are symptoms, you will want to consult with your doctor at All Women’s Care to prevent your discomfort and further protrusion.
An inguinal hernia is most apparent by its appearance. It will cause a bulge along your groin or pubic area and increase in size when you cough or stand up. These hernias can become painful or sensitive when touched. Other symptoms of the inguinal hernia include:
- Pain when you bend over, exercise, or cough
- Burning sensation where it has developed
- A sharp pain where the hernia is located
- A full or heavy feeling in your groin area
- In men, it can cause swelling in the scrotum
There is no one cause for developing the inguinal hernia, but weak spots in your groin or abdominal muscles can be a significant factor. Any extra pressure in these areas of your body can create a hernia. Other risk factors for developing an inguinal hernia include:
- Having had an inguinal hernia previously
- Being a male
- Premature birth
- Being obese or overweight
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic cough
- Chronic constipation
An inguinal hernia can either be strangulated, incarcerated, direct, or indirect.
- A strangulated inguinal hernia is a more serious medical condition as it is located in an intestine and cuts off blood flow. A strangulated inguinal hernia is a life-threatening condition you will need your physician at All Women’s Care to treat medically.
- An incarcerated inguinal hernia occurs when your tissue becomes stuck in the groin area and cannot reduce. The tissue cannot push back into place.
- A direct inguinal hernia often occurs in adults as they get older. It is thought to develop due to the weakening of muscles during adulthood. This form of hernia is more prevalent in men than in women.
- An indirect inguinal hernia is the most common form of hernia and occurs during premature births. These develop before the inguinal canal closes off; however, it can happen at any point during your life. This form of hernia is more common in men.
Your doctor at All Women’s Care can diagnose an inguinal hernia during a general health exam. Typically by coughing, they are able to check for the presence of a hernia, and if reducible, are able to push it back into your abdomen as you lay on your back. If it cannot be pushed back into place, it may be an incarcerated or strangulated inguinal hernia.
Should the hernia be strangulated or incarcerated, your physician may have to perform surgery to repair. These types of surgery have a high success rate when done by an experienced doctor at All Women’s Care.
You may notice the lump at your thigh or groin area disappears when you are lying down. Hernias are more noticeable when you stand, bend over, or while you are coughing. Pain or an uncomfortable sensation in the area may be what alerts you to the hernia’s presence.
Another form of hernia, the hiatal hernia can cause more specific symptoms such as trouble swallowing, heartburn, or chest pain. In most cases, you will experience no symptoms and not even be aware of having a hernia until you have a routine exam by your doctor at All Women’s Care.
A hiatal hernia develops when the top portion of your stomach moves up and through your mid-section and into the region of your chest. Your diaphragm is the large muscle between your chest and your abdomen. It is used to help a person breathe. Your stomach is located below your diaphragm, but if you develop a hiatal hernia, a portion of your stomach pushes through the muscle. The opening it creates is known as the hiatus.
A hiatal hernia is more common in persons over fifty years of age, and affects about sixty percent of that age group by the time they reach sixty years of age. The exact cause is not known, but injury or damage to the muscle tissue is thought to be a possible cause for a person’s stomach to push through their diaphragm.
Other factors that can cause too much pressure to be applied to the muscles around your stomach include:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Straining while making bowel movements
There are people born with an abnormally large hiatus, and this condition can make it easier for the stomach to move through the opening.
There are two types of hiatal hernias:
- Fixed hiatal hernia is not as common and is also called the para esophageal hernia and occurs when part of your stomach pushes through your diaphragm and stays. This type of hernia is not serious in most cases; however, it can restrict blood flow to your stomach. If it restricts blood flow, it could cause serious damage and require emergency medical treatment.
- Sliding hiatal hernia is a more common form of hernia, and happens when your esophagus and stomach slide into and then out of your chest through the hiatus. This form of hernia is typically small and does not present symptoms. These hernias often do not require medical treatment.
It is rare to experience symptoms with hiatal hernias, but if you do, it will most likely happen because of stomach acid, air, or bile entering your esophagus. Symptoms you could experience, include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Epigastric pain or chest pains
- Heartburn that increases as you lie down or bend over
Do not assume a hiatal hernia is the cause of your discomforts or chest pains if you are experiencing these types of symptoms. These symptoms can also be a sign of serious heart problems. You need to contact your doctor at All Women’s Care to be tested and determine the exact cause for your pain.
Recovery of Hernia
You should recognize the signs of a hernia, and if you suspect you have one, it should be looked at by your doctor at All Women’s Care to determine whether or not it is causing serious medical conditions. A hernia left untreated will not go away on its own, and your doctor will know the best treatment for it.
There can be life-threatening medical conditions or complications caused by hernias. If you experience symptoms, such as fever, sudden pain, vomiting, or nausea, seek the help of your physician at All Women’s Care to determine the cause and get the necessary medical attention you need.
Lifestyle changes and early medical care can minimize the symptoms of most hernias. There are situations where the surgery will be required to treat these medical conditions effectively. There are a number of different surgeries for the recovery or repair of a hernia, and your doctor at All Women’s Care will be able to find the right solution for you.
Umbilical Hernia Repair Surgery
Umbilical hernia repair surgery is done to repair an umbilical hernia. This form of hernia is when a bulge or pouch appears in your abdomen. It results from a section of your intestine or abdominal cavity tissue pushing through a weak spot in your abdominal wall near your belly button. This form of hernia can occur in adults and children.
Adults can develop a serious condition known as strangulation. Although rare, the hernia can strangle your blood flow to the herniated tissue. This can happen in umbilical hernias that will not reduce, or are not able to be pushed back into your abdominal cavity.
The symptoms surrounding an umbilical hernia, include severe pain, vomiting, and nausea. The area near the umbilical hernia can begin to look blue as though it has been bruised. The contents of this hernia can become nonfunctional and die if they are strangulated. You have to contact your doctor at All Women’s Care immediately if you suspect you have developed a strangulated umbilical hernia.
Surgery will not always be required to repair an umbilical hernia, but if the hernia is causing:
- Severe pain
- More than a half-inch of the area to be affected
Then the chances are that surgery will be required to repair or remove the hernia.
Umbilical hernias are common in babies. The umbilical cord goes through an opening in an infant’s abdominal muscles while the baby is in the womb. This opening should close right after birth, but if it doesn’t close all the way, a weak spot develops. This weak spot makes the baby more susceptible to an umbilical hernia.
In babies, an umbilical hernia develops when they are born and can push the belly button out. This form of hernia in a newborn almost always heals without the need for surgery. Surgery is only suggested if the hernia does not disappear by the time the child reaches age three or four, or if the hernia begins to restrict blood flow or cause pain.
In adults, the umbilical hernia can occur if there is excess fluid in your abdominal cavity, you’ve had previous abdominal surgery, or you have chronic peritoneal dialysis. These hernias are also common in women who are overweight or have recently been pregnant. If you’ve had multiple pregnancies, you are at a higher risk for an umbilical hernia.
If you develop an umbilical hernia as an adult, it is unlikely to go away. These forms of hernias typically continue to grow, and over time will require a surgical repair. Risks of surgically repairing an umbilical hernia are low; however, as with any form of surgery, there are possible complications that can arise, such as:
- Blood clots
- Reaction to the anesthesia
- Injury to intra-abdominal structures including the small intestine
Umbilical hernia repair surgery is typically performed with general anesthesia. With this form of anesthesia, you will be asleep and will not experience any pain. You can talk to your doctor at All Women’s Care about choices of anesthesia, such as using a spinal block rather than general anesthesia.
If you choose a spinal block, it is an anesthetic drug that is placed around your spinal cord and numbs the area in your abdomen being repaired. You will not fully be asleep with a spinal block, but you are given pain relievers and sedation medicines to make you comfortable during the procedure.
To reduce your risk of bleeding during the surgery, you will be asked to stop taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin several days before your scheduled surgery. You will also be asked to fast for at least six hours before your appointment. Your physician may give additional instructions at All Women’s Care as to what precautions to take and what to expect during your procedure.
There are two methods used in an umbilical hernia repair surgery:
- Open hernia repair involves the surgeon making an incision close to your belly button so they can access the hernia over the bulge.
- Laparoscopic hernia repair is a less invasive procedure and allows the surgeon to make smaller incisions near the hernia bulge. A thin, long tube with a lighted camera is attached to the end of the tube and inserted into one of the incisions. This tube will allow your doctor to look inside your abdominal cavity with the image being sent to a video screen.
Either choice of surgery, the open or the laparoscopic, has the same goal. The surgeon will gently place your bulging intestine or other tissue back through the hole in your abdominal wall. The hole is then sewn closed. There are times when a synthetic mesh is needed to be inserted into the abdominal wall to strengthen the area.
Most umbilical hernia repairs are performed in the outpatient care, and you should be allowed to go home the same day as the procedure. The medical staff at All Women’s Care will closely monitor your breathing, temperature, blood pressure, oxygenation, and heart rate until you are fully awake.
You may be sent home with pain relief medications and instructions on how to keep your stitches dry and clean. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled to assess your healing process, but most people are able to return to normal activities within a few weeks following the surgery.
Hernia repair surgery has an excellent prognosis but can depend on the type of hernia you have and your overall health. There are cases where the hernia will reoccur following a repair.
The Cause of Hernias
A hernia can be caused by strain or muscle weakness. Depending on the cause of the hernia, it can develop over a long period of time, or it can develop quickly. Some of the common reasons for a person to develop a hernia include:
- A congenital condition which occurs during a babies development in the womb
- COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) or a chronic cough
- Damage which occurred during a surgery or an injury
- Becoming pregnant or having multiple pregnancies
- Lifting heavy objects or strenuous exercise
- Constipation or straining to perform a bowel movement
- Ascites or fluid in the abdomen
- Obesity or being overweight
Other factors that can result in the development of a hernia, include:
- Being old
- Being pregnant
- Personal family history of hernias
- Chronic constipation
- Smoking (weakens the connective tissue of your body)
- Cystic fibrosis
How a Doctor Diagnosis a Hernia
Your doctor at All Women’s Care can diagnose a hernia through a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor feels for any bulges in your groin or abdominal area that become larger when you cough, strain, or stand. There are also a number of medical questions asked regarding your health history:
- When did the bulge first appear?
- Are there any other symptoms?
- Are you aware of any specific events that could have caused the hernia?
- What is your lifestyle, such as what tasks are performed in your work, do you exercise, and how?
- Are you a smoker?
- Does your family have a history of developing hernias?
- Have you had type of surgery in your groin or abdomen areas?
Once these questions are asked, and the initial exam has been done, there may be some imaging tests needed to help your doctor diagnosis hernia, such as:
A CT scan or computed tomography scan is a form of specialized X-ray. It provides a cross-sectional image of a specific area of your body. During a CT scan, a machine circles your body and sends an image to a computer, where a technician can view it.
With a CT scan, your doctor can see blood vessels, organs, and bones in your abdominal cavity, and through multiple images, get different views of your insides.
An abdominal ultrasound will use a high-frequency sound wave to catch images and videos on your insides. These ultrasounds allow your doctor to see the structures and organs inside of your abdomen. An abdominal ultrasound is a painless and safe procedure and has become increasingly popular for diagnosis by medical professionals.
An MRI Scan or magnetic resonance imaging is noninvasive testing that uses radio waves and magnets to create an image of the inside of your body. It will create a cross-sectional image of your abdomen, so your doctor can look for abnormalities in your organs or tissues. There are no incisions used during this type of scan.
If your hernia is determined to be growing larger or causing you pain, it may be best to operate and remove or repair it. Your doctor at All Women’s Care will discuss your options and look at either an open or laparoscopic form of surgery. Not all hernias are suitable for laparoscopic procedures and will be discussed with you after an exam of your overall health, and the type of hernia you have developed.
After a hernia surgery or repair, you may experience pain around the site that was treated. Typically there is a pain relief medication sent home with you to ease these symptoms. You will need to follow your doctor’s instructions for care of the surgical area, and if any sign of infection is noticed, you will need to return to All Women’s Care right away.
Where Can I Receive Hernia Treatment Near Me?
If you have noticed a bulge or growth and are concerned you may have developed a hernia, call All Women’s Care at 213-250-9461. We are committed to the health needs of all women and will provide you with the best possible experience through state-of-the-art care. Hernias can become a medical emergency, but with early detection and treatment, we can help you resolve these conditions before they become painful or life-threatening. Call us today and schedule an appointment so we can provide a diagnosis and plan to keep you healthy.