Your 78 internal organs perform vital tasks that keep you alive and functioning, but they don’t work alone. Structural elements, namely your skin, and muscles, keep them firmly in place. If those tissues holding in your organs fail or weaken, your organs can easily bulge out of place and protrude through the muscle wall — a condition called a hernia.
Hernias can be incredibly painful and trigger an onslaught of other symptoms. At Advanced Surgical Associates of Northern Minnesota, our team of experts led by board-certified general surgeon John Bollins, DO, equips you with the information you need to spot a hernia as soon as it emerges, so you can know when it’s time to get help.
Here’s everything you should know about the different types of hernias and your treatment options:
Hernias can happen in almost any place in your body where an organ can push through weak muscles and tissue, but they occur most often in your abdominal cavity. The type of hernia you have depends simply on the organ in question.
Inguinal hernias are among the most common types of hernias. They pop up in your inguinal canal, a passage in your lower abdominal wall. The inguinal canal is present in both men and women. In women, it contains a ligament that supports the womb; in men, it houses blood vessels and spermatic cords that lead to the testicles.
Inguinal hernias can occur in both genders when the fatty tissue of the inguinal canal finds its way through the muscles near the leg crease in the groin.
An inguinal hernia can occur indirectly due to a natural weakness in the inguinal canal or directly because of a weak inguinal canal floor, which is most common in men over 40 years old.
You may have heard inguinal hernias called “sports hernias” because they’re often exercise-related. However, sports hernia is a term many use to describe groin pain from a sports injury. Sometimes, groin pain stems from an inguinal hernia and other times it can be a symptom of a pulled muscle.
Femoral hernias are the next most common type of hernia. Together, inguinal and femoral hernias account for around 80% of all hernias. Like inguinal hernias, femoral hernias also occur in the groin area, but the main difference is that femoral hernias are more common in women. They also tend to occur below the crease in the groin rather than above.
No matter how skilled your surgeon is, the incisions from your surgery inevitably weaken your muscles. Therefore, past surgical sites are often prime locations for weakened tissues to give way and allow an organ to bulge through.
An umbilical hernia occurs near the navel in newborns or young infants. The muscles and tissues in this area are weaker after the umbilical cord is detached, so it’s not uncommon for an organ to push through temporarily and cause a small bump.
Umbilical hernias often resolve by age three or four, but unfortunately, the area usually remains weak and results in a higher risk of an adult umbilical hernia later on.
This type of hernia occurs when a portion of your stomach pushes up through your diaphragm into your chest cavity. Some catch a hiatal hernia after complaining to their doctor about chronic acid reflux.
When the tissues in your upper abdominal wall are weak, protrusions develop between your belly button and breastbone, causing epigastric hernias.
Hernias that appear on the side of your abdomen are likely Spigelian hernia; however, this type of hernia can develop with no visible protrusion.
Protruding hernias can range from a mild annoyance to agonizingly painful. One of the first things we try is to carefully press on the hernia to see if it flattens out under pressure.
If it works, you have what’s called a reducible hernia, and, fortunately, it’s not an immediate health threat. We help you manage symptoms and take steps to gradually strengthen the weakened muscles and tissues that allowed the hernia in the first place.
If your hernia is nonreducible, it’s usually excruciating.
Hernias don’t go away on their own, and they only get worse the longer you leave them untreated. In some cases, we need to perform hernia surgery to repair the problem. Left unchecked, a hernia can progress and become strangulated, meaning the intestinal tissue is trapped. Strangulated hernias can result in gangrene (tissue death), which is a medical emergency.
Don’t spend another day ignoring that bulge and trying to manage your symptoms on your own. Our experts are standing by to diagnose and treat your painful hernia quickly. Call our friendly staff or use our online booking tool to request an appointment today.