Symptoms and Causes of an Inguinal Hernia

Symptoms and Causes of an Inguinal Hernia

There are several different types of hernias that affect different parts of the body. One of the most common types is known as an inguinal hernia. An inguinal hernia is a condition that occurs when tissue, or a portion of an organ slips through a weakness or tear in the lower abdominal muscle near the groin. This is the area between the abdomen and the thigh. Identifying and diagnosing an inguinal hernia can be quite easy if you know what to look for. Here are some common symptoms and causes of inguinal hernias.


An inguinal hernia will most often show up as a bulge on either side of the groin. The bulge is the tissue that is protruding through the muscle. It will usually look and feel like a round lump, but it could also appear that the entire area on that side of the groin is swelled. Some people report moderate pain along with the lump, and others have no pain at all. In addition to pain, feelings of heaviness, burning and pulling are also common in the location of the bulge. In many cases, the bulge will disappear when you lie down. This is gravity pulling the tissue back through the opening. This will often alleviate the pain as well. This type of hernia may become larger and more painful as the day goes on, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet during the day. In rare cases, part of your intestines may become trapped inside the hernia. This is known as a strangulated hernia. Symptoms of this will include severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. If this happens, medical attention should be sought immediately. This condition usually requires emergency surgery to repair it.

Causes and Treatment

Inguinal hernias can affect anyone at any age, but they are much more common among men than women. The weakness in the muscle wall is usually a result of the opening not healing properly from the time a person is born. This can lead to an inguinal hernia at any time in a person's life, or not at all. Sometimes a hernia can develop slowly over the course of months, or even years. Other times it happens suddenly as a result of heavy lifting or persistent coughing. Being overweight can also contribute to the development of an inguinal hernia.

If you suspect that you may have an inguinal hernia, your doctor can confirm that diagnosis quickly with a routine physical exam. Some people do not even know they have a hernia until it is found by their doctor. Treatment options will vary depending on the size of the hernia and the amount of discomfort you are in. If the hernia is causing you a great deal of pain and is disrupting your normal daily routine, your doctor will most likely recommend that it be repaired surgically. If the hernia is small enough and does not bother you, your doctor will probably allow you to put off surgery until it is convenient. Most doctors will recommend getting it repaired at some time to eliminate the possibility of it becoming strangulated.

Inguinal hernias are very common, as is the surgical procedure to repair them. As with any physical symptoms, if you believe you have a hernia, see your doctor for an official diagnosis. Your doctor is the only one who can eliminate any other possibilities and identify underlying causes.