IN THIS ARTICLE
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for a Hernia?
All newly discovered hernias or symptoms that suggest you might have a hernia should prompt a visit to the doctor. Hernias, even those that ache, if they are not tender and easy to reduce (pushed back into the abdomen), are not necessarily surgical emergencies, but all have the potential to become serious. Referral to a surgeon should generally be made so that the need for surgery can be established and the procedure can be performed as an elective surgery and avoid the risk of emergency surgery should your hernia become irreducible or strangulated.
If you find a new, painful, tender, and irreducible lump, it's possible you may have an irreducible hernia, and you should have it checked in an emergency setting. If you already have a hernia and it suddenly becomes painful, tender, and irreducible, you should also go to the emergency department. Strangulation of intestine within the hernia sac can lead to gangrenous (dead) bowel in as little as six hours. Not all irreducible hernias are strangulated, but they need to be evaluated.
What Types of Health Care Professionals Treat Hernias?
Your primary-care doctor will be able to diagnose and initially treat many hernias. Definitive treatment will usually require surgery. Depending on the location of the hernia, the hernia repair will usually be performed by a general surgeon.
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Hernias?
If you have an obvious hernia, the health care professional may not require any other tests (if you are healthy otherwise) to make a diagnosis. If you have symptoms of a hernia (dull ache in groin or other body area with lifting or straining but without an obvious lump), the doctor may feel the area while increasing abdominal pressure (having you stand or cough). This action may make the hernia able to be felt. If you have an inguinal hernia, the doctor will feel for the potential pathway and look for a hernia by inverting the skin of the scrotum with his or her finger.
Last Reviewed 9/11/2017
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