A hernia is a catchall term for any internal organ that protrudes through a weak spot into areas where it doesn’t belong. While most hernias don’t pose an immediate threat, they can get worse and cause obstructions, strangulation of the tissue, as well as a considerable amount of pain and discomfort. In very rare cases, a hernia that progresses may pose a serious risk, which is why you should be armed with the following information.
At Surgical Associates of North Texas, Dr. Scott A. deVilleneuve and our team are adept at identifying and repairing problematic hernias in our patients in McKinney, Texas. But we’d like our patients to learn more about how to tell whether they’re suffering from a hernia, which is why we’ve pulled together the following primer on the condition, in all its many forms.
As we mentioned above, a hernia is really a catchall term for a number of conditions where one of your organs has pushed through a weak spot and into a neighboring area.
Far and away the most common type of hernia is an inguinal hernia, which is when a piece of fatty tissue or your intestine pushes through your abdominal wall in your groin area, or inguinal canal. This type of hernia occurs far more often in men than in women (eight times more), and it can develop just as frequently in younger populations as in older ones.
Femoral hernias are far less common and they mostly strike women. With this type of hernia, there’s a protrusion into your femoral canal at the top of your thigh.
Umbilical hernias largely occur in newborns and babies and form when fat or a part of their intestine bulges through the abdominal wall near their belly button.
Rounding out the list of the most common hernias are incisional hernias, which can crop up after abdominal surgery, and hiatal hernias, which develop when your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm.
Since there are so many kinds of hernias, we’re going to divide them into external and internal. External hernias are typically inguinal, femoral, and umbilical and the reason we call them external is because there’s often outward evidence of their presence.
Starting with the most common, inguinal hernias are often signaled by:
If these symptoms get worse — if the lump gets bigger and the pain more constant — it’s time to get in to see us. Most doctors routinely check for hernias, but some people present no symptoms until the condition starts to worsen.
For femoral hernias, you may notice a lump in your upper thigh or groin area. The bump may not present any discomfort at first, and often doesn’t, only making itself known if the protrusion starts to become strangled.
With internal hernias, the signs aren’t readily there, making it more difficult to determine whether there’s a problem. For example, if you have a hiatal hernia, there usually aren’t any symptoms, but when there are, they mimic digestive disorders, such as acid reflux.
Incisional hernias, as well, don’t typically develop outward signs, but you may feel some pain and discomfort at the site of the hernia. This type of hernia is often associated with gastric bypass surgery, so if you’ve had this procedure, you should be on the lookout for anything that doesn’t feel quite right in your abdomen.
Since there are many types of hernias, the symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Ultimately, your best bet is to come in and see us so we can get to the bottom of your issue. Our intent here is to help you recognize the warning signs, giving us ample time to take the necessary action.
If you suspect you have a hernia, or you’d like to learn more about the condition, please feel free to call us or use the online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.