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Common Types of Hernias


Topic Overview

What is a hernia?

A hernia is a bulge of intestine, another organ, or fat through the muscles of the belly. A hernia can occur when there is weakness in the muscle wall that allows part of an internal organ to push through.

You may have a hernia if you can feel a soft lump in your belly or groin or in a scar where you had surgery in the past. The lump may go away when you press on it or lie down. It may be painful, especially when you cough, bend over, or lift something heavy.

Types of hernias include:

  • Inguinal hernia.
  • Femoral hernia.
  • Umbilical hernia.
  • Incisional hernia.
  • Epigastric hernia.
  • Hiatal hernia.

Inguinal Hernia

An inguinal hernia (say "IN-gwuh-nul HER-nee-uh") occurs when tissue pushes through a weak spot in the groin muscle.

Most inguinal hernias happen because an opening in the muscle wall does not close before birth as it should. This leaves a weak area in the belly muscle. When tissue pushes through the muscle, it creates a bulge.

See a picture of an inguinal herniaClick here to see an illustration..

The main symptom of an inguinal hernia is a bulge in the groin or scrotum. It often feels like a round lump. The bulge may hurt or burn. It may form over a period of weeks or months. Or the bulge may appear all of a sudden after you lift heavy weights, cough, strain, or laugh.

If you have an inguinal hernia, it won't heal on its own. Surgery is the only way to treat it. For more information, see the topic Inguinal Hernia.

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