(Hernia, Groin; Hernia, Inguinal; Inguinal Hernia)
A groin hernia is an external bulge in the groin area that contains fat, connective tissue, and/or a portion of intestine. There are two main types:
- Inguinal hernia—occurs when there is a weak spot in the area where the abdomen meets the thigh on both sides (most common type)
- Femoral hernia—occurs less frequently, located in the upper thigh
A groin hernia that pushes through the abdominal wall can trap a section of intestine. This can lead to an emergency where the intestine is blocked or strangled.
Anything that causes weakness or tears in the abdominal wall can cause a groin hernia, including:
- Defects at birth
- Prolonged wear and tear (eg, lifting, straining, or coughing)
- Age-related weakness of the abdominal wall
- History of previous surgery in the area
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors include:
- Advancing age
- Sex: male (Groin hernias are about 10 times more common in men. But, femoral hernias are more common in women.)
Increased pressure within the abdominal cavity due to:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Straining to urinate or pass stools
- Severe or prolonged coughing
- A bulge in the groin area when standing or straining
- Pain in the groin area when straining
- A bulge that may extend into the scrotum in men
- Pain, a heavy feeling, or discomfort in the groin (Sometimes there is no pain.)
More serious symptoms may need emergency care:
- Severe pain in the groin or abdomen
- Rapid heart beat
- Abdominal swelling
Most inguinal hernias require surgery. If it is a small hernia that can be pushed back into place, an external pad (called a truss) may be worn to provide support. Surgery is usually still needed at some point.
After surgery , hernias sometimes return, either on the same side or the opposite side. Hernia repair can cause pain and disrupt your quality of life, but these complications are rare.
- Herniorrhaphy]]> —to repair the defect in the abdominal wall
- Hernioplasty—to reinforce the weak area with steel mesh or wire
- ]]>Bowel resection]]> —to remove a section of the intestine, may be used when part of the intestine becomes twisted or blocked or turns gangrenous and dies
- ]]>Laparoscopic]]> hernia repair—done through several tiny incisions in the groin or abdomen, recovery may be faster
The following strategies may help to prevent a groin hernia:
- If you are overweight, lose weight]]> .
- ]]>Exercise regularly]]> to keep abdominal muscles strong.
- Warm up before exercising to avoid straining your muscles.
- Learn to ]]>lift properly]]> . Ask for help with heavy weights.
- Wear a protective belt when lifting heavy weights or moving heavy objects.
- Eat more ]]>fiber]]> to prevent ]]>constipation]]> .
- ]]>Stop smoking]]> , especially if you have a chronic cough.
Talk to your doctor if you:
- Strain when passing stools or urine
- Cough or sneeze a lot
American College of Physicians
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Institute for Health Information
Goldmann DR. American College of Physicians Complete Home Medical Guide . New York, NY: DK Publishing; 1999.
Groin hernia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 2008. Accessed July 27, 2008.
Hawn MT, Itani KM, Giobbie-Hurder A, McCarthy M Jr, Jonasson O, Neumayer LA. Patient-reported outcomes after inguinal herniorrhaphy. Surgery . 2006;140:198-205.
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>John C. Keel, MD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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