Being in pain is never fun, and picking the best solutions to resolve that pain can feel stressful. If you or a loved one believe you’re suffering from an inguinal hernia, otherwise known as a groin hernia, knowing what treatment you need could save you from long term pain.
The great thing about an inguinal hernia is that depending on the severity of your injury, you may not need surgery as a treatment and typically the recovery experience is quick. If you’re uncertain if your pain is caused by an inguinal hernia, normally a physical exam is all you need to determine and diagnose you.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT AN INGUINAL HERNIA IS
An inguinal hernia occurs when fatty or intestinal tissues push through the abdominal wall near the right or left inguinal canal. Both men and women have inguinal canals residing in the abdomen near the groin area. If you have a hernia in or near the canal, you’ll typically notice a protruding bulge. While many inguinal hernias can be small and not cause pain, the further the protrusion the more likely you are to feel discomfort and need to seek out medical attention.
Symptoms may include:
- Burning sensations or sharp pains in the groin area
- Pain when moving
- (For men) swelling of the scrotum
Causes of an inguinal hernia vary and can easily happen. From being overweight to putting extra pressure on this area of the body, to pregnancy, or even being hereditary – there’s no single cause behind this injury. Research estimates that about 27 percent of men and 3 percent of women may develop an inguinal hernia during their lifetime, making it most common among men. Like many injuries, the fear is that the longer you go without treatment, the more severe your injury can become.
HOW CAN IT BE TREATED?
While less severe cases may not need surgery as treatment, here’s what you can expect should your physician see it as the only solution.
First, your doctor will explain the two types of surgery: open and laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. Depending on the severity of your hernia, your surgeon may suggest one option over the other. Both open and laparoscopic surgeries for inguinal hernias are known to be safe, and both have their advantages.
Open surgery is performed when a small cut is made to push and redirect the lump back into your abdomen. It’s typically a pretty quick and clean operation. Using a local anesthetic to numb and prevent pain, your surgeon will place the fatty tissue or bowel back into your abdomen, and then place a piece of mesh over the weak spot in your abdominal wall to strengthen it. Should the piece of tissue have become strangulated, your surgeon will instead remove it and rejoin the healthy ends of your bowel.
You may need to stay in the hospital longer with this option to ensure a safe recovery.
Laparoscopic or keyhole surgery is less invasive but requires more minuscule cuts and may take less time to perform. This is where your surgeon will go in and repair the hernia using a variation of tools such as a laparoscope (camera). Your surgeon may or may not enter through the peritoneal cavity to reposition or remove the tissue. Once completed, the incisions in your skin are sealed with staples or surgical glue.
Both options will allow you to make a speedy recovery and have their advantages. Keyhole surgery has a slightly faster recovery rate and is typically less painful post surgery. However, open surgery is more direct and has a higher chance of ensuring the hernia doesn’t return in the future.
Possible complications come with having any surgery done. However, surgery for an inguinal hernia is routinely safe and efficient. With inguinal hernia treatment, you may find mild to severe side effects. Though, severe damage is rare and unlikely. You may experience things such as bloating or difficulty swallowing, but this typically does not last for long and things will return to normal with a few days to a few months.
One common and short term side effect is difficulty urinating post surgery. You may find that you need a temporary tube to assist in urinating for up to a week but shouldn’t experience this effect for longer.
Post surgery, your surgeon will want to monitor things like urinary retention, potential infections, and swelling due to a build up with blood. While these effects aren’t common, if you experience any of them you’ll want to contact your physician immediately.
An inguinal hernia does not get better or go away on its own, but not every inguinal hernia requires surgery. Less severe cases of it can be remedied or reduced by pushing the small inguinal hernia back into the abdomen with a gentle massage. Should this not help relieve pain or should the hernia return, your surgeon will more than likely suggest surgery.
KNOWING WHEN TO CONTACT A PROFESSIONAL
Anytime you’re experiencing abnormal pain contacting a medical professional is advised. However, if you’re uncertain of how severe your injury is, or which option for surgery may be best for you specifically, it’s time to contact your physician and discuss your options. They’ll routinely advise you to come in for a visit and give you a physical exam as well as go over all of your potential solutions.
If you or a loved one believe you may be suffering from an inguinal hernia, contact us today. At Orange County General Robotic Surgery, our goal is to help you find the answers for what’s causing your pain and provide you with top of the line solutions. We want you to feel your best so you can enjoy your day-to-day life without the stress of an injury holding you back. For appointments, you can go online to schedule a time or call us at 714-706-1257. Our operating hours are Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.