When you feel a protrusion in your abdomen or groin, chances are it’s a hernia. There are several types of hernias, and not all of them require immediate medical attention, but if you ignore a hernia, you could experience some pretty serious complications.
At New Life Medical in Bakersfield, California, Dr. Nirav Naik and our team diagnose and treat all kinds of hernias, and the question we get asked most often is: Will it go away on its own?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is that you may be able to delay treatment for a while, but eventually you’ll probably need hernia surgery. When the time comes, you’re in good hands with Dr. Naik — he’s a highly experienced surgeon who specializes in using advanced technology and minimally invasive techniques to reduce pain, tissue damage, and recovery time.
Types of hernias
Wherever you have weak muscle tissue that allows your internal organs to push through and bulge out, you can develop a hernia. Some are caused by the intense pressure associated with constipation, others by obesity, and some are present at birth. Smoking, poor nutrition, and incorrect lifting techniques can also contribute to the problem.
The location of your hernia dictates its name:
- Inguinal hernia: intestine pushes through the lower abdomen or groin
- Femoral hernia: protrusion on the inner thigh
- Umbilical hernia: near the belly button, common in newborns
- Epigastric hernia: above the belly button
- Spigelian hernia: tissue pushes through below the belly button
- Incisional hernia: appears at a previous surgical site
In general, hernias don’t present a serious medical concern, but complications can arise that make immediate medical attention necessary.
Anytime your hernia causes pain and other symptoms, it’s time to visit Dr. Naik. You may notice a burning or aching sensation that gets worse when you cough, strain, or bend.
You may also experience nausea, fever, or extreme gas and bloating. If your hernia changes color to red or purple, seek medical attention right away.
The most dangerous hernia complications are incarceration and strangulation.
In mild cases, Dr. Naik can manually push on your hernia and return the organ to its original position. This is only a temporary fix, though. If your hernia doesn’t go back in, it may be an incarcerated hernia, meaning that part of the organ or stomach tissue has become trapped in the hernia.
An incarcerated hernia can lead to bowel obstruction or a strangulated hernia. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery.
If your hernia becomes strangulated, it means the contents have pushed through the weakened muscle, and the muscle has clamped down on it, strangulating it. This cuts off blood supply and could lead to a perforated intestine, gangrene, and shock.
If you experience acute pain, bloody stools, fever, increased heart rate, and darkening skin over the hernia, get emergency help right away.
Surgery for hernias
For a while, wearing a supportive truss can relieve the pain and pressure of a hernia, and if Dr. Naik can push the hernia back in, you may have a temporary reprieve. But hernias don’t heal themselves, so eventually you probably need to have it surgically repaired.
Whenever possible, Dr. Naik uses a minimally invasive surgical technique called laparoscopy. He only needs to make a few very small incisions so he can insert a long slender instrument with a camera on the tip. Through another incision, he inserts a surgical tool that enables him to repair your hernia.
This procedure causes minimal tissue damage, which means you can be up and around and back to a pain-free life quickly.
If you have a hernia, schedule an appointment with Dr. Naik to find out if and when it needs surgery. Call us at 661-230-8306 today.