Inguinal hernias are often joked about, but they’re no laughing matter. This type of hernia occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in groin muscle. The weak spot is often due to an opening in the muscle wall that failed to close properly before birth leaving a weak spot in the muscle wall. Frequent lifting, coughing, or straining can put pressure on the weak area causing tissue to push through and bulge out. Other risk factors include being male, being overweight, and sometimes pregnancy.
The most common symptom of an inguinal hernia is a bulge in the abdomen, groin, or scrotum, which may occur over a period of weeks or months or may occur suddenly. The bulge may appear as a round lump. It can cause swelling and a feeling of heaviness, tightness, or burning in the area. Some hernia are painless and some may cause pain which can be alleviated by lying down.
Inguinal hernias do not heal on their own. Surgery is the only treatment. If it does not cause pain, some doctors will recommend waiting on treatment. But, many doctors believe that the risk of surgery on a painless hernia is less than the risk of the hernia strangulating. Strangulated hernias occur when a portion of the intestine becomes trapped in the bulge and the blood supply to the tissue is cut off. While strangulated hernias are rare, they can be dangerous as they can result in gangrene of the affected tissue, risk of bacterial contamination of the blood, and severe bleeding.
If you think you have an inguinal hernia, see your doctor to discuss potential treatment. If surgery is recommended, be aware that hernias may come back after surgery. To reduce the risk of reappearance, stay at a healthy weight, do not smoke, avoid heavy lifting, and eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fiber, and water to promote bowel regularity.
Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., is a board certified general surgeon specializing in laparoscopic and bariatric surgery. Dr. Shillingford performs open hernia repair and laparoscopic hernia surgery depending on the need of the patient. His Boca Raton office is conveniently located for patients in the South Florida area including those living in Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Pompano, Deerfield Beach, Parkland, Fort Lauderdale, Wellington, and Coral Springs. If you are considering hernia repair surgery, call Dr. Shillingford for a surgical consult at (561) 483-8840