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Inguinal Hernia

What Is an Inguinal Hernia?

An inguinal hernia is a lump or bulge in the groin area. The bulge is caused by part of the intestine poking through a weak spot in the abdominal wall.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for inguinal hernia include:

  • Abdominal fluid or pressure
  • Heavy lifting
  • Straining to urinate due to prostate or other conditions
  • Excess weight
  • Chronic constipation and straining to have a bowel movement
  • Chronic coughing or sneezing
  • Cystic fibrosis (disease of mucus and sweat glands)
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Overexertion
  • Poor nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Undescended testicles

Some hernias are present at birth. It is more common in boys and men.

Symptoms

Symptoms of inguinal hernia include a small bulge on one or both sides of the groin area above the lower abdomen and thigh. It may get bigger when straining or disappear when lying down. 

Other symptoms include:

  • Groin-area pain, especially when straining, lifting, coughing or exercising
  • Groin-area weakness, heaviness, burning or aching
  • Swollen or enlarged scrotum

Treatment Options

Inguinal hernias may move in and out of the abdomen. Sometimes a specialist can gently move a hernia back into the abdomen. Prompt surgery is still needed to prevent complications or permanent intestinal damage.

The procedure is usually done in one of our outpatient surgery centers. Your surgeon may do laparoscopic hernia repair – a minimally invasive approach with smaller incisions and faster healing.

Recovery time depends on:

  • Procedure
  • Size and type of hernia
  • Age
  • Health
  • Other variables

Complications

Complications requiring emergency treatment include:

  • Incarcerated hernia – Part of the small intestine is stuck in the groin or scrotum
  • Strangulated hernia – Small intestine blood supply is blocked

Incarcerated or Strangulated Hernia Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden pain that gets worse quickly
  • Tenderness or severe pain and redness

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of an inguinal hernia, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat inguinal hernias.