Hernia is a protrusion of soft tissue that penetrates through or between the muscles. Body muscles are usually tense and firm. They tighten various tissues and organs to keep them in the correct position. However, muscles sometimes weaken, for example due to excessive effort or congenital (inherent) weakness. When this happens, soft tissue breaks through the weak spots and creates a bulge known as hernia.
Hernia may appear on many parts of the body, but it is most common on the abdominal wall. The abdominal wall consists of the muscles surrounding the organs in the abdominal cavity – the stomach, the intestines, the liver, the kidneys and the sex organs. Firm abdominal muscles keep abdominal organs even at elevated pressure within the abdominal cavity – for example, coughing, sneezing, heavy weight lifting, or urinating and stooling. However, if the weak spot appears on the abdominal wall, the pressure in the abdominal cavity may force the muscles to separate there. Part of the abdominal cavity, often intestinal tissue, is then passed through the muscles, resulting in a projection that is often visible.
A very common type of hernia is hiatal hernia that occurs on the esophagus or diaphragm – the muscular partition that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity.
The main symptom of abdominal pain is likely to be bulge or swelling. The bulge usually develops slowly for weeks, but it can also be abruptly shaped – for example, because of the effort when lifting heavy loads. At the injection site you can feel the weight and pressure pain.
Most hernia can simply be pushed back to the place; those are called reducible hernia. Those that can not be pushed back are called irreducible hernia, and usually can be cured only with the surgery. Operative surgery is generally recommended for reducible hernia because they often come back and may sometimes cause pain.
If a portion of the intestine reaches the abdominal wall, a collapse may occur in the passage of the intestinal contents, i.e. muddy outage or obstructed hernia. If you have such hernia, you will have all the more severe abdominal pain, followed by nausea and vomiting. The other risk in abdominal hernia is threatened by strangulation. The strangulated hernia is so widened that it prevents blood flow to the tissue in it. Strangulated hernia grows, is red and very painful. Both obstructed and strangulated hernia require urgent medical intervention.
Always contact your doctor if you notice any swelling or bulging that, for reasons unknown, lasts for more than a week. If your doctor finds you have a hernia, he will most likely recommend you a surgery. Surgical treatment is generally the most recommended, even for reducible hernia. Your doctor will probably recommend that you wear a corset or hernia belt for a while, but in young people it is only a temporary measure. Hernia usually get worse, and there is always the risk of obstructed and strangulated hernia, which require immediate surgical procedure. Hernia is operated so that the protruding tissue is pushed back to its place, after which the loose muscles are tightened or interlocked. As you recover after surgery, you need to listen carefully to the doctor’s instructions because any abrupt activity, which is burdening the abdominal muscles, can result in the reoccurrence of the hernia.