Hernias may be a common problem, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore them. After all, a hernia means you have an organ or tissue inside your body bulging into an area where it doesn’t belong. Here’s what you should know if you have a hernia.

When we think about the human body, we often focus on things like organs, muscles, and bones. However, the musculoskeletal system is far more complex, especially when it comes to soft tissues. That’s because everything in your body has a supporting structure that helps hold it in place. And, if that structure fails, issues can arise — which is the case when hernias develop.

Hernias can occur anywhere in your body. All it takes is the smallest weakness in the support structure meant to hold the organ or tissue in place. When the support fails, the organ or tissue it’s meant to hold in place starts bulging out of position. For instance, an organ in your abdomen can start pushing through the wall of your abdominal cavity.

In most cases, a hernia isn’t life-threatening at the beginning. However, that doesn’t mean it will go away or heal on its own. Instead, you need an expert like Dr. Laureen Forgione-Rubino to guide you through your treatment options.

Dr. Forgione-Rubino treats hernias at her private practice in Manchester, Connecticut. While you may not need surgical treatment immediately, it’s usually the best treatment option in the long run.

Why hernias cause problems

As mentioned above, when you have a hernia, an organ or tissue in your body starts bulging out of position because the structure that should hold it in place becomes damaged or weakened. This issue can occur anywhere, but it’s most common in your pelvis and abdomen.

A hernia can cause a variety of issues, depending on its location. For instance, many people develop an obvious lump or bulge that can get pushed back into place. These bumps can also disappear when you change position or lie down. However, hernias can also cause digestive issues — like problems swallowing or heartburn — and pain, nausea, or a dull ache.

A hernia often starts small and causes few, if any, symptoms. But it typically grows larger with time as the support structure continues to weaken. When this occurs, more and more tissue can push through the opening, causing your symptoms to worsen and increasing your chances of complications ranging from intense pain to obstruction, infection, and gangrene.

Why a hernia won’t get better on its own

It’s tempting to ignore a problem that doesn’t seem very bad in the beginning, especially when it doesn’t cause serious symptoms. However, a hernia means you have a hole in an internal support structure. Unlike a cut or scrape on your skin, this weakened tissue won’t grow shut again.

Common causes of hernias include:

  • Aging
  • Excessive straining from chronic coughing, constipation, or lifting heavy weights
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Sustaining damage during surgery or injury
  • Being pregnant, especially multiple times
  • Having conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)

You can also develop a hernia because of congenital conditions that cause tissue weaknesses from birth.

What to do about a hernia

If you have pain, bulges, or other symptoms that could indicate a hernia, it’s important to see Dr. Forgione-Rubino right away. Based on your exam, she determines how serious it is and the best approach moving forward.

Generally speaking, the only way to completely resolve most hernias involves surgical repair. During these procedures, Dr. Forgione-Rubino uses minimally invasive methods whenever possible to put the bulging organ or tissue back in place. Then, she strengthens and reinforces the weakened support structure and closes holes in the area.

But that doesn’t mean you necessarily need treatment right away. Sometimes doctors take a “watch and see” approach for hernias.

Signs your hernia could benefit from surgery include:

  • Size
  • Type and location
  • Severity of symptoms

Fortunately, hernia repair surgeries are quite common and come with few risks. And, thanks to the use of minimally invasive techniques, they even come with faster recovery times.

Do you have a hernia? Schedule a consultation by calling Dr. Forgione-Rubino or requesting an appointment online today to learn about your treatment options.

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