What is Hernia?
A hernia in the groin occurs when abdominal tissue or fat pokes out through the abdominal wall. The abdominal wall wraps around your middle from the bottom of your ribs to your pelvis; when weak, internal tissues can press through and create a bulge. Two main types occur:
- Inguinal hernia — occurs in the area where the abdomen meets the thigh on both sides. This is the most common type (mostly in men)
- Femoral hernia — located in the upper thigh (mostly in women)
What Causes a Hernia?
Problems with the abdominal wall from before birth, injuries or wear and tear of the muscles can cause weakness.
Factors that increase your chance of abdominal wall weakness include:
- Advancing age
- Wear and tear on abdominal wall from frequent lifting of heavy objects or prolonged coughing or straining
- Previous surgery in the abdominal area
Symptoms of a Hernia
Many times, there are no symptoms with a groin hernia. In those that do have them, the symptoms may include:
- A bulge in the groin area when standing or straining
- Pain in the groin area when straining
- A bulge that may extend into the scrotum
- Pain and/or a heavy feeling or discomfort in the groin area
More serious symptoms may need emergency care:
- Severe pain in the groin or abdomen
- Abdominal swelling
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Imaging studies are only done if the diagnosis in not clear by physical exam.
No symptoms? You and your doctor can monitor your hernia for growth or the appearance of more serious symptoms.
Symptoms? Surgery that pushes tissue back in and closes the opening can repair the hernia. Sometimes we can support this area with a mesh material.
Avoid a Hernia
The following strategies may help to prevent a groin hernia:
- If you are overweight, lose weight.
- Exercise regularly to keep abdominal muscles strong.
- Learn to lift properly. Ask for help with heavy weights.
- Stop smoking, especially if you have a chronic cough.
Get Your Hernia Evaluated
A hernia can trap a section of intestine, leading to blockage or problems with blood flow. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate care.
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT
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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.