Symptoms and Signs of Hernia FAQ

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2022

Doctor's Notes on Hernia FAQ

Hernias occur when part of an abdominal organ or fatty tissue in the abdomen pushes through a weak spot or tear in the abdominal muscles or connective tissues. When the hernia occurs in the groin, it is called an inguinal hernia, which is the most common type of hernia. Other types of hernias include femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), incisional (resulting from an incision), and hiatal (upper stomach).

Symptoms of hernias include

  • a lump or tenderness and pressure or pain upon bending, 
  • coughing, or straining;
  • a heavy feeling in the groin or abdomen,
  • pain and swelling in the scrotum in men,
  • pain with a bowel movement or during urination,
  • pain when lifting or moving something heavy, and
  • pain later in the day, especially if you have been standing a lot.

In children, a parent may notice a lump when the baby cries or coughs or strains for a bowel movement.

What is the treatment for a hernia?

There are essentially two treatments for a hernia. First is “watchful waiting” and the second is hernia repair surgery. The first treatment is not recommended by many surgeons as a hernia will not usually heal itself; more often, it may enlarge and become more painful and possibly develop complications. 

Hernia repair surgery for all types consist of three procedures:

  • Open surgery – the site of the hernia is opened, protruding tissue is put back in place and the weakened muscle is closed and stitched back together
  • Laparoscopic surgery – same as above, only done through small incisions
  • Robotic repair – Done by a surgeon that does laparoscopic surgery by using a robot under the surgeon’s remote control

The best type of surgery is usually determined by the patient’s surgeon.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.