Hernias may be common, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. And did you know you can have a hernia without knowing? Learn how to spot the signs of this problem and when to seek medical attention.

People often use the word “hernia” to describe a specific condition. However, this is actually a general term that describes an organ or tissue bulging into an area it shouldn’t. Hernias occur because of weakness in the structure that should hold it in place.

You can develop a hernia anywhere in your body, so the location gives them a more descriptive name. For example, common types of hernias include:

  • Inguinal hernia: intestine protrudes through the abdominal wall above your groin
  • Femoral hernia: tissue protrudes into your groin at your upper thigh
  • Umbilical hernia: tissue bulges near your navel
  • Hiatal hernia: stomach pushes through your diaphragm between your chest and abdomen
  • Incisional hernia: a lump develops in your abdomen near an incision after abdominal surgery

With so many types of hernias, it can be tricky to know if you have one and if it requires medical attention. Fortunately, an expert like Dr. Laureen Forgione-Rubino can help.

Dr. Forgione-Rubino has practiced general surgery since 1993 and has advanced expertise in surgical procedures, including robot-assisted and laparoscopic techniques. This gives her the experience and skill required for diagnosing and treating hernias at her private practice in Manchester, Connecticut.

In this blog, Dr. Forgione-Rubino shares the most common signs of a hernia and when it may require medical treatment.

Recognizing the signs of a hernia

You can develop a hernia anywhere in your body, but 75% are inguinal — or near your groin. In most cases, a telltale sign of a hernia involves a visible bulge or lump.

However, what sets these lumps apart from other health conditions is the fact that they typically appear during certain positions or activities but disappear in others. For instance, you may notice a bulge appear when you laugh, cough, or strain in a certain way, but it goes away as soon as you stop.

Similarly, when you have a hernia, the bulge appears somewhere in your body where it shouldn’t, like the top of your inner thigh or in your abdomen. It’s also common to feel pinching, pressure, or a dull ache when it “pops” out.

Since some hernias can develop deep inside your body, like a hiatal hernia involving the stomach and diaphragm, you may not see a bump or lump. Instead, these hernias can cause digestive symptoms, like chronic acid reflux, indigestion, trouble swallowing, and frequent discomfort in the area.

While uncomfortable, hernias don’t usually cause life-threatening complications. However, they can become serious if the bulging tissue gets stuck and can’t return to its natural position.

To play it safe, Dr. Forgione-Rubino recommends seeing a doctor if you have persistent discomfort, pain, or visible bulges where you shouldn’t have them. That way, you can receive a diagnosis and determine the best course of action moving forward.

Diagnosing and treating a hernia

Depending on the type of hernia, Dr. Forgione-Rubino often diagnoses your condition during a comprehensive exam. Sometimes, she captures digital images of the affected soft tissue with CT scans. When possible, Dr. Forgione-Rubino also tries to physically make it go back in, which can help determine its severity.

After diagnosing your hernia, Dr. Forgione-Rubino outlines the best treatment strategy. When you have a small or mild hernia, it’s often possible to monitor your condition and treat it if it worsens. However, most hernias don’t go away without surgery.

The good news is that hernia repair surgery is common, and Dr. Forgione-Rubino uses the most advanced surgical techniques available to perform these procedures — robotic and laparoscopic hernia repair.

Each of these minimally invasive procedures allows Dr. Forgione-Rubino to repair a hernia with smaller incisions and greater precision than traditional open techniques. These approaches come with fewer risks, faster recovery times, and fewer complications than traditional techniques. However, Dr. Forgione-Rubino also has exceptional traditional hernia repair surgery skills if you aren’t a good candidate for less invasive methods.

Whether you need surgery or not, Dr. Forgione-Rubino can provide the guidance you need to reduce your risk of serious hernia complications. If you think you have a hernia, don’t wait to see an expert. Schedule a consultation by calling Dr. Forgione-Rubino or requesting an appointment online today.

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