Everything I Have Learned About Hernias
For years, I dealt with pelvic pain. With no doctors being able to tell me why, I assumed it was from endometriosis. It turned out, even after my diagnosis, there was something other lingering inside of my body. My first appointment with my endometriosis specialist went something like this: "So, you are having a lot of pelvic pain?" I nodded yes and he said, "It is most likely a hernia." But how did he know that? He informed me that he had seen numerous patients with endometriosis, each coming in with the same pain and later on found hernias during their surgeries. Sure enough, when I woke up from my excision surgery, two inguinal hernias were found!
These types of hernias occur in the abdomen near the groin. They usually show up due to a weak spot in the abdominal wall. Strenuous activity, muscle weakness due to aging, straining while using the bathroom, and lifting heavy objects are just a few possible causes of inguinal hernias. Of course, I fit under all of those categories. So figuring out how I got hernias will forever be a mystery.
Types of hernias
There are a few different types of inguinal hernias doctors can find.
- Indirect: Found during my surgery. Indirect hernias are known to be the most common. Usually found in the groin area and occur anytime during life. Usually caused by abdominal content like the bowel or fat, pushing along the inguinal canal.
- Direct: Occurs in adult men more often than women.
- Incarcerated: When tissue becomes stuck in the groin.
- Strangulated: A serious medical condition. Involving the intestines having blood cut off to them.
Diagnosis and treatment
Diagnosis can be tricky. I mean of course, right? It seems everything we deal with is tricky to diagnose! Hernias typically cause a noticeable bulge, making it very visible that you do have a hernia. In my case, mine was so deep, a bulge wasn't present. It was even too deep to see on any sort of scan. So just like going in for a lap to diagnose endo, I had to do the same thing for the hernia. But because of the pain I described and where it was located, that was the red flag that I most likely had a hernia. During my surgery, they were able to remove both hernias found. They filled the area from where they removed the hernias with mesh. The mesh helps reinforce the abdominal wall.
Symptoms of hernias
Here are a few symptoms you can look out for. Keep it in mind, not everyone will have the same symptoms. In fact, some have no symptoms at all!
- Noticeable bulge
- Burning or achy feeling
- Pain and discomfort in groin
- Pain when bending over, coughing, lifting
- Heavy feeling, weakness pressure in groin
Minus the bulge, I had everyone of those symptoms! The pain even shot down my legs into my back. Since the removal of the hernias, that pain has not been as severe. But I have soreness where the mesh now is. Unfortunately, just because I had the hernias removed doesn't mean new ones won't show up. The best thing to do if you have or had hernias is to refrain from lifting anything heavy and to add extra fiber into your diet to reduce straining during bowel movements.
I am thankful my doctor was able to find my hernias and remove them, before they became too serious. If you are having similar pain and symptoms, certainly talk to your doctor about the possibility of hernias. As I mentioned earlier, just because it is not causing a noticeable bulge, does not mean it is not there!
Have you shared your story with us yet on our community stories page?