How to Tell If You Have a Hernia

June is Hernia Awareness Month

What are hernias?

The most common hernia is a groin, or “inguinal” hernias.  Hernias form as a bulge usually in men but also in women. They may form a bulge in their groin that may or not be tender or painful and are very common. Men especially have approximately 27% lifetime risk of having hernia at some point in their life. In women it is not as common, only 3% or so of women get hernias in their lifespan. There are other types of hernia’s, such as hiatal hernia’s, which we won’t address today. Groin hernias tend to outnumber abdominal hernias by about 3 to 1.

 What causes hernias?

Hernias often form in folks who have weakened abdominal muscles or who do a lot of heavy straining.  This is a part of the reason that it happens in young men more often than other individuals.  With men, without getting into too much physiology, men of course have testicles and scrotum and those structures descend through the inguinal canal. This canal is much larger in men than in women and that’s part of the reason men are so much more susceptible to hernias than women.

If you think you have a Hernia

Most of the time hernias don’t cause problems. People can have them their entire life.  When they do cause pain though that’s a problem, and a concern that complications may have arisen. Most common hernias are what we call reducible; you can take your finger or you can lie down in bed and due to the effects of gravity, the bulge in the groin will actually disappear, which means the intestinal contents actually go back into the abdominal cavity or to the correct location. If it’s not reducible by lying down or using a finger or having a physician trying to reduce it, then there are concerns about things like strangulation, or incarceration occurring.  Without getting into details of what those are, if those concerns are there, then you need to see a surgeon, and there may be a need for surgery.

Screening and Diagnosis of Hernias

If you are having abdominal pain or pelvic bulge and pain, you want to see physician, and he or she will do an exam. They will use their finger, and they will see if you have a bulge in your scrotum or on your groin and they’ll see if its reducible or not. If the exam doesn’t give them the answer, they can perform an ultrasound, a very, inexpensive test that can tell you the same day whether a hernia is present.

Treating a Hernia

As I stated before, hernias are actually something that you can watch for years and years without need for treatment, but if its causing pain, we generally refer folks to a surgeon who can do a very simple laparoscopic surgery very, very safe.  So if you have any concerns about hernias, here at Urgent Care we are happy to see you.