A hernia occurs in a man or woman when the inside layers of the abdominal muscle have weakened, resulting in a bulge or tear. In the same way that an inner tube pushes through a damaged tire, the inner lining of the abdomen pushes through the weakened area of the abdominal wall to form a small balloon-like sac. This can allow a loop of intestine or abdominal tissue to push into the sac. The hernia can cause severe pain and other potentially serious problems that could require emergency surgery. A hernia does not get better over time, nor will it go away by itself.
The common areas where hernias occur are in the groin (inguinal), belly button (umbilical), and the site of a previous operation (incisional).
It is usually easy to recognize a hernia. You may notice a bulge under the skin. You may feel pain when you lift heavy objects, cough, strain during urination or bowel movements, or during prolonged standing or sitting.
The pain may be sharp and immediate or a dull ache that gets worse toward the end of the day.
Severe, continuous pain, redness, and tenderness are signs that the hernia may be entrapped or strangulated. These symptoms are cause for concern and immediate contact of your physician or surgeon.
To help you determine if you need to contact a physician regarding your condition, answer the questions below.