Sometimes, a bellyache is just a bellyache, but when pain persists for quite a while, it’s normal to suspect that something’s up. Among the many causes of groin and abdominal pain, hernias are one of many causes not too many people know about, even though they are relatively common. So, what exactly is a hernia?
In short, a hernia is a general term for an organ that pushes through part of the muscle tissue holding it in place. Typically, hernias are common around the abdomen, but can also occur in lower parts of the body including the groin or upper thigh areas, wherever muscle tissue is generally thinner than it usually is.
Just about anyone can get a hernia, given the right conditions for one to happen—including children. While they sometimes just occur seemingly “out of the blue”, most hernias are caused by the small intestine weakening the muscles around it. Pregnancy, chronic coughing and sneezing, and difficult bowel movements can cause a hernia, as can any intense strain or pressure on the abdomen. People with pre-existing weak spots in the abdominal wall are more at risk, but with proper care, they are avoidable.
The most common symptom of a hernia is swelling or a bulge on the surface of the abdomen. This area will most likely hurt as well, and pain may be dull or stabbing, and will sometimes feel like a pressure on the affected area. Any activity that may cause strain on the abdomen—like bending down, lifting heavy objects, or going downstairs will exasperate this pain as well.
For people who have had abdominal complications in the past, like a surgery or a pregnancy, hernias are much more common, and will likely occur around the location of the surgery.
All of this may sound terrifying, but hernias are preventable and when given enough time, treatable too. To prevent a hernia, you can maintain a healthy body weight, and consult your doctor when you are feeling constipated or have a long-lasting cough. Staying away from cigarettes and other smoking devices like vapes, cigars, and e-cigarettes can also help prevent hernias since heavy smoking often causes a chronic cough.
In the case you do get a hernia, speak with your doctor right away. When left untreated, a hernia can cause serious complications and even become life-threatening, and they won’t go away on their own. To treat a hernia, patients will undergo one of many kinds of hernia surgeries, which are relatively successful. Depending on the type of surgery, the location of the hernia, and the patient’s condition, more than one may be needed in a lifetime. In some cases a hernia belts can help prevent the condition from worsening while a patient waits for their surgery as well.
If you or a loved one has any concerns about hernias or their abdominal pain, speak with your primary care physician immediately. To browse other orthopedic products that can help make surgery recovery a bit easier, visit Medical Supply Depot.