An Inguinal Hernia is a condition resulting from tissue protruding through a weak spot in the abdominal wall.  There can be a bulge, which causes pain while coughing, bending over or lifting heavy objects.

While this type of hernia isn’t always dangerous, it will not get better on its own.  It can also lead to other problems as well.  If the hernia is painful, enlarging, or even asymptomatic your surgeon might commonly recommend surgery.

You may have an Inguinal Hernia if you see the following symptoms:

  • A bulge on the sides of the pubic bone, which is worse when standing, coughing, or straining.
  • A burning, itching sensation at the site of the bulge.
  • Groin discomfort, particularly when bending, coughing or lifting.
  • A sensation of dragging, weakness, or pressure in the groin.
  • In extreme circumstances, pain and swelling around the testicles (if the intestine protrudes into the scrotum).

Signs that the Inguinal Hernia has become a Strangulated Hernia, where the blood flow has been cut off by the abdominal wall, include:

  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Fever
  • Sudden, intense pain
  • A bulge that turns dark purple or red
  • Inability to pass gas or move your bowels

If you see any of these signs, contact your doctor immediately.

What causes an Inguinal Hernia?
Some Inguinal Hernias don’t have an inciting incident or cause.  They can be caused by increased abdominal pressure, a weak spot in the abdominal wall, straining during bowel movements or urinating, athletic activities, a chronic cough/sneeze, or pregnancy.

If your hernial is small and doesn’t seem to bother you, the doctor might recommend waiting, or a truss that helps support the abdominal wall.  If surgery is required, there are two different types of hernia surgery:

Open hernia repair involves an incision made in the abdomen, through which the surgeon will push the tissue back through the abdomen.  The surgeon will then sew the affected area up, usually reinforcing it with a synthetic mesh before closing the incision.

In a laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon will make several small incisions in the abdomen to send through a small tube equipped with a camera.  The surgeon then inserts several tiny instruments through the other incisions to actually repair the hernia, guided by the camera.

In both surgeries, it can take as much as a few weeks before you return to your usual level of activity.