You likely know that you can’t participate in strenuous physical activities after any surgical procedure, no matter how invasive it is. However, some light physical activities can ensure a successful recovery after ventral hernia repair. Physical therapy plays a vital role in ventral hernia recovery, provided you follow the correct instructions.
Keep reading to learn more about incorporating physical therapy into your hernia recovery.
- What Causes a Ventral Hernia?
- Treating a Ventral Hernia
- Recovering from Ventral Hernia Surgery
- The Importance of Physical Therapy After Hernia Surgery
- How Do You Strengthen Your Core?
- Always Consult a Physician
What Causes a Ventral Hernia?
A hernia develops when there is a weakness in your abdominal wall. This weakness allows the abdominal contents to push and bulge through. A ventral hernia develops along the vertical center of your abdomen.
There are many things that can cause a hernia to develop. Genetics, abdominal strain, and other environmental factors contribute to a ventral hernia. A ventral hernia may also develop at the site of a previous incision. Abdominal surgery weakens the abdominal wall. Chronic coughing, obesity, and pregnancy are other factors that cause ventral hernias to develop.
You can also develop a ventral hernia if you lift heavy objects or exercise incorrectly. However, this does not mean you should stop all forms of physical exercise. You can prevent a ventral hernia by strengthening your core.
Treating a Ventral Hernia
Ventral hernias don’t always heal on their own. Without treatment, ventral hernias can become incarcerated or strangulated. Both of these conditions are life-threatening as they cut off blood supply or lead to severe tissue damage. Hernias become more complicated to treat the longer they exist. If you suspect you have a ventral hernia, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.
There are three types of surgical procedures available at Orange County Robotic General Surgery. Dr. Abtin Khosravi, MD, has performed over 1,000 robotic hernia surgeries. He treats ventral hernias with the following surgical procedures:
- Open surgery/conventional hernia repair
- Laparoscopic hernia repair
- Robotic hernia repair
The goal of hernia repair surgery is to reposition the displaced organs or tissues and repair gap in the abdominal muscle layer. Laparoscopic and robotic surgical procedures are less invasive than open surgery and have a significantly shorter recovery time.
Recovering From Ventral Hernia Surgery
It is good to resume some light physical activity while you recover. However, Dr. Khosravi will advise you on how to ease into it. Keep in mind that it’s common to experience some post-operative pain for a few days after the surgical procedure, but Dr. Khosravi will prescribe pain medication. Despite using pain medication, the discomfort may prevent you from engaging in certain physical activities.
A ventral hernia forms at the site of a weak spot in your abdominal wall, so your abdominal muscles are still sensitive for a while after your hernia repair surgery. There is a chance that your hernia will return if your wound does not heal correctly during the recovery period. Make sure to follow Dr. Khosravi’s instructions during your recovery period to prevent hernia recurrence. Thankfully, there is a way to strengthen your abdominal muscles during your recovery period.
The Importance of Physical Therapy After Hernia Surgery
Many surgeons don’t stress the importance of physical therapy. However, it plays an essential role in helping you heal. One of the main reasons ventral hernias develop is because of weak abdominal muscles. Physical therapy helps to strengthen your core muscles, making it easier to perform daily activities. You can prevent a ventral hernia from reoccurring by overcoming muscle weakness in your core. Building core strength also prevents other symptoms, such as back pain.
How Do You Strengthen Your Core?
So how do you strengthen your core after hernia surgery if your physical activity is limited? The goal is to strengthen your abdominal core without damaging your muscles. You can strike a balance by following strict guidelines on the correct way to exercise. Here are a few ways you can strengthen your core without hindering the healing process:
As mentioned, you may experience some pain and discomfort immediately after your hernia surgery, so you may worry about taking deep breaths. However, short, shallow breaths can cause more harm to your health. You can develop a lung infection if your lungs are not inflating adequately. It is important to take full, deep breaths every few minutes to keep your lungs free of mucus.
In addition to protecting your lungs, deep breaths strengthen your core and teach you control when doing physical exercise. Proper breathing techniques are an essential part of light and strenuous physical activities. By controlling your breathing, you can prevent your ventral hernia from recurring.
Light Physical Activities
Relaxing walks can strengthen your abdominal muscles, improve blood circulation, and reduce post-surgery complications. Adequate blood circulation is a vital part of your recovery process. Your body sends blood to the wound to encourage healing. By taking gentle walks every day, you can keep your muscles active and ensure proper blood flow. If you feel tired, take short breaks.
In addition to walking every day, try to do some core-strengthening exercises. Pelvic tilts are highly effective at building core muscles without putting too much pressure on your ventral hernia.
Core twists are also good at building core strength while increasing your torso flexibility. These exercises can also alleviate stiffness due to being inactive for a long time. You can combine core twists and pelvic tilts as a part of your daily exercise routine.
Learn the Proper Techniques
Before engaging in any breathing or core strengthening exercise, seek the correct techniques. You can ask your physical therapist or physician to help you with this. The goal is to keep your abdominal muscles strong. However, you should avoid doing anything that puts additional stress or force on your abdomen. Heavy lifting and strenuous physical exercise are leading causes of hernia recurrence in ventral hernia repair patients.
You should schedule regular appointments with a qualified physical therapist to help you understand the mechanics of your body and teach you how to use your muscles correctly.
Always Consult a Physician
It is crucial to consult with Dr. Khosravi before doing any of these activities. He’ll inform you of the appropriate stage in your recovery to begin/resume light to moderate exercises.
Most patients resume gentle walks and other light daily activities, such as bending, within a week after ventral hernia surgery. It is normal to still feel some discomfort during this time. Each patient is unique, and they heal at their own pace. That is why it is crucial to follow Dr. Khosravi’s post-operative guidelines for ventral hernia repair. It’s also recommended to speak to Dr. Khosravi about incorporating physical therapy into your hernia recovery.
To find out if inguinal hernia repair surgery is right for you, Contact Orange County General Robotic Surgery at (714) 706-1257 for a consultation with Dr. Abtin H. Khosravi.