MODERN TREATMENT FOR INGUINAL (GROIN) HERNIA
What is an inguinal hernia?
An inguinal hernia is protrusion of an organ or a tissue through a weak spot in a muscle in the groin region. As the inguinal hernia enlarges, it forms a sac and internal organs such as the intestines can fall into this sac creating a bulge. The bulge is most often visible when a person is standing and may temporarily disappear in lying down position.
How does one get an inguinal hernia?
An inguinal hernia can occur at any age. In children, an excessive natural weakness leads to a hernia (congenital hernia). In adults it is usually the strain from heavy lifting, substantial weight gain, persistent coughing or difficulty with bowel movements or urination that causes the muscles in the region of groin to weaken (acquired hernias). A hernia then comes out through the weakened area. This article focuses on inguinal hernias occurring in adults.
What symptoms does an inguinal hernia produce?
Inguinal hernias can produce different symptoms - the commonest being a protrusion in the groin particularly on straining during urination, during a bowel movement, or while lifting a heavy object. Sometimes there may be a sharp pain, a dull aching sensation or a vague feeling of fullness in the groin.
What happens if the hernia is not treated?
An inguinal hernia never gets better without treatment. In fact chances are that most would develop complications sooner or later. If the hernia can be pushed back into the abdominal cavity, it is referred to as a reducible hernia. This type is not an immediate danger to ones health. However, if it cannot be pushed back it is said to be non-reducible and this condition may lead to dangerous complications. It often means that a part of the intestine has got trapped in the hernia. In such cases there exists a risk of the flow of the intestinal contents getting blocked (intestinal obstruction) or the intestinal blood supply getting cut off (strangulation). When these complications occur the hernia becomes painful and the patient experiences abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting. Such complications invariably require an urgent operation.
Can a hernia be treated with medicines?
No, unfortunately hernias cannot be treated with any medicines.
What about wearing a belt or a truss?
It is important to realise that a supportive belt or a truss does not prevent an inguinal hernia from growing bigger and certainly does not avoid the risk of blockage to the intestines. Therefore, a belt (truss) is not at all helpful and is not recommended as a treatment.
What is the best treatment?
An operation is the only permanent treatment for an inguinal hernia. In some patients this is required to relieve the bulge of the hernia or the pain and in others it is advised to prevent the risk of complications.