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What Are the Symptoms of a Hernia?

Hernias are common, with an estimated 1 million hernia repairs performed annually. A hernia is a medical condition in which internal organs or tissue push through a weak spot in connective tissue or muscle, often in your abdominal wall.

The abdominal wall is made of several layers of muscle designed to keep your organs in place. Age, injury, strain, and many other factors can make parts of the abdominal wall weaker, and organs can push their way out.

Hernias can develop almost anywhere between your hips and your chest. Inguinal and femoral hernias are located near the groin, while ventral hernias appear near the upper part of the stomach.  

Small hernias may not produce any noticeable symptoms, but they can get worse if left untreated. Large or painful hernias could create medical complications that require prompt treatment, so it’s important to identify the presence of a hernia before it becomes problematic.

Elvira Klause, MD, and our surgical team specialize in diagnosing and treating hernias of all kinds. If you’ve noticed pain or an unusual bulge, it’s time to find out if your symptoms could be caused by a hernia.

Hernias may create a visible bulge 

The most common — and the most noticeable — symptom of a hernia is a visible bulge below the surface of your skin. When internal organs begin to poke through the abdominal wall, they can create a lump that’s visible from the outside.

The location of the bulge varies depending on the type of hernia you have. 

Inguinal hernias and femoral hernias may cause a bulge to form on one side of your pubic bone, where your groin and thigh meet. Hiatal hernia could create a bulge near the upper abdomen, while umbilical hernias cause the bulge to develop near your belly button.

A bulge caused by a hernia is generally most visible when you’re standing upright. It’s generally soft and it can be pushed around. Hernia bulges may disappear when you lie down.

Hernias could cause abdominal pain

Another possible symptom of a hernia is pain around the bulge or pain in a localized area. The area may be sensitive to the touch, even if you don’t have a noticeable hernia bulge.

Pain can feel like a burning or aching sensation, which may get worse with strain. Activities like bending down, lifting heavy objects, coughing, or straining during a bowel movement can trigger sharp pain from a hernia. 

Some people describe a heavy sensation of pressure or weakness, particularly in hernias located near the groin. In severe inguinal hernias, pain may extend around the testicles and scrotum.

Hiatal hernias can trigger acid reflux

Hiatal hernias can produce more unique symptoms than other types of hernias. If you have a hiatal hernia, your stomach protrudes into your chest cavity through your diaphragm, and it can interfere with digestion.

Acid reflux or heartburn could be caused by a hiatal hernia. Some people notice vague chest pain, indigestion, or difficulty swallowing with hiatal hernias.

It’s possible to have a hernia without suffering pain or other symptoms, so the only way to know whether you have one is by getting regular, comprehensive physical exams.

Still have questions about hernia symptoms? Wondering what hernia repair involves? Get answers to frequently asked hernia questions here, then schedule your first appointment online or by calling our San Clemente, California, office today.

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