A hernia usually occurs when a hole or rupture appears in the wall of the abdomen. The abdominal wall consists of tendons and very tough muscle. It runs from the rib area down to the groin area and stops just before the legs. One of the abdominal wall’s functions is to hold in the intestines. When a rupture occurs, the intestines can begin to push through the abdominal wall.
A hernia can happen to anyone, regardless of age or sex. It is usually felt as a small lump, but if left untreated, can grow to any size. There have been cases in which an untreated hernia has grown to the size of a football, and even larger examples have been recorded. The hernia can become quite visible to the sufferer and to other people as it presses against the skin.
As it grows larger, with more intestine protruding through the abdominal wall, the hernia can cause more acute pain. It can also be extremely dangerous if the intestine becomes trapped inside the abdomen wall, as it may have a strangulating effect. This condition will not get better on its own, but must be surgically treated.
Apart from a natural weakness in the abdominal wall, there are a number of reasons hernias may occur. One of the most common is a sporting injury. The most frequent sports injury is a groin injury, in which the muscle can be easily torn or strained. If a lump appears in this area, it may be the result of an inguinal hernia. If physical therapy fails to treat this injury, the only other option is surgery.
There are a few surgical options available to treat this condition. One of the most common surgical procedures is a tension free repair. This consists of covering the hernia with a prosthesis. Tissue will grow through the inserted mesh and the disorder will be corrected. Most tension free repair surgeries last from 20 to 90 minutes and are performed under general anesthetic.
Other surgeries include pure tissue repairs and laparoscopic techniques. Your surgeon will advise on the best on the best type of surgery for your situation. When a hernia appears, it is always best to see your doctor as soon as possible; the longer you leave it, the bigger it will grow. Remember, although it can be caused by sport or other injuries, if the abdominal wall is weak, simply sneezing or coughing can cause a hernia.