Dr. Facey Urges Patients not to Dismiss Hernia Diagnosis
August 07, 2017
Are you experiencing pain or pressure in your lower torso that becomes unbearable when you cough, exercise or bend to lift something? Have you noticed a lump in your groin area?
You might be suffering from hernia. More specifically, inguinal hernia, which occurs when part of your intestine pushes through a weak spot in your lower belly wall. This area is called the groin, the hernia creates a lump in your groin. Over time, the hernia may get bigger.
Most inguinal hernias, even large ones, can be made smaller and pushed back into your belly using gentle massage and pressure.
There are two types of inguinal hernias: indirect and direct.
• Indirect inguinal hernia. This is the most common type. It happens when an opening in your belly (abdominal) wall does not close normally before birth. That leaves a weak spot in the belly wall.
• Direct inguinal hernia. This type occurs mainly in adult males. It is caused by a weakening of abdominal muscle tissue over time. This happens because of aging and long-term stress on the weakened belly muscles.
An inguinal hernia can happen at any age to men or women. Obese individuals, especially men, pregnant women, people with a family history of hernias and smokers are more susceptible to developing hernia, explained Dalkeith Facey, DO, FACOS, MBA, General Surgeon.
Children can also develop hernia, especially umbilical hernia, sometimes spontaneous closes without surgery needed, Dr. Facey noted.
There are certain activities which might also raise your risk for an inguinal hernia. These include:
• Doing a lot of heavy lifting
• Long-term (chronic) coughing
• Straining to have a bowel movement
Some inguinal hernias are painful, while others don’t cause any pain. Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
• A lump in the groin or in the sac that holds the testicles (the scrotum)
• Pain or pressure in the groin that gets worse when you cough, strain, lift, or exercise
• A burning feeling in the lump
• Steady, growing pain if the blood supply to the entrapped bowel is cut off, called a strangulated hernia
“If you have hernia and continue to do your normal daily activities, including lifting, it’s going to make the hernia worse,” Dr. Facey said. “Until you fix the hernia you can’t get back to normal activities.”
In severe cases, the entrapped intestine is partly or fully blocked. Symptoms in severe cases may also include infection, pain, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms of an inguinal hernia may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
Dr. Facey explained, a physical exam by your doctor is the most accurate way to diagnosis hernia. The doctor may also use imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis, including:
• X-ray - This test makes pictures of internal tissues, bones, and organs. It uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams.
• CT scan - This test shows detailed images of any part of the body, such as the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. A CT scan is more detailed than a regular X-ray. It uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal images (often called slices) of the body.
• MRI - This test uses a magnetic field and radiofrequency energy to view the hernia.
Dr. Facey explained, an inguinal hernia will not heal on its own. If you have symptoms or the hernia is growing, you may need surgery. There are three types of surgery for an inguinal hernia: traditional open hernia repair, laparoscopic hernia repair, or robotic hernia repair.
Inguinal hernias that are not causing any symptoms can be closely watched. If symptoms occur, your surgeon can repair the hernia. Some surgeons recommend women get all groin hernias repaired. This is because it can be difficult to tell an inguinal hernia from femoral hernia, a more complicated type of hernia in women.
You will need surgery right away if your small intestine gets stuck in the groin, resulting in an incarcerated hernia or if blood supply to your small intestine is blocked, as is the case with strangulated hernia. If you suffer from incarcerated or strangulated hernia seek medical treatment immediately. The hernia may cause a hole and you may need a bowel resection. This is when the pinched-off part of the intestine, or bowel, is removed.
While in some cases a hernia may come back after surgery. This is less likely to happen when mesh is used to support the weak belly muscles, Dr. Facey pointed out.
“Getting treated in an appropriate time frame is paramount to ensure patients make a full recovery,” he said.
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Facey, please call 315-769-4656. MMH Surgical Group and Wound Care, part of the MMH North Country Family Health Network. Dr. Facey welcomes new patients and all insurance.