One of the most common problems addressed by a surgeon is an abdominal hernia, but there are many other types and subtypes, including hiatal hernia and inguinal hernia. However, most of them share a similar pattern and diagnostic approaches. They are basically protrusions of abdominal content through an anatomic (natural) defect. There are also surgical hernias when patients experience a protrusion of abdominal contents through a defect in the abdominal wall that results from a surgical procedure.
It is estimated that 1 million patients undergo repair surgery to improve hernia symptoms, and one of the most common is an inguinal hernia, which often appears in male patients. These protrusions are detected after a careful physical exam, and sometimes you might not have any symptoms but your doctor would detect one after examining your body. That is very common in umbilical hernia, which is often asymptomatic.
Since there is a wide variety of hernias in the human body, we will address the most common signs and symptoms, they all share and go into particular details of each variant if needed. The most common signs and symptoms are as follows:
1) Pain symptoms
Most patients with hernia problems come to the doctor because they are constantly having pain symptoms. There are many different types of pain associated with a hernia, and they can be either mild or severe, acute, or chronic. In most cases, it is referred to as mild discomfort in the area where a protrusion lies, and sometimes it would be a constant source of pain with no visible protrusion. Thus, most patients consult with pain but without having a clue as to its cause.
The reason why patients experience pain in hernias is that their abdominal contents are passing through a small and tight defect that creates pressure and squeezes the contents of the viscera. Similar to any other abdominal organ, they have pain receptors that become activated when pressure is consistent. Moreover, in certain cases, hernias in the abdominal wall would capture a portion of the intestines and compromise its blood flow. The affected tissue undergoes hypoxia and may even start dying as a result of this, releasing inflammatory molecules and triggering a severe and sudden type of pain that is often crippling and almost unbearable.
Pain symptoms are not always present, and many patients with hernia might remain asymptomatic for a very long time. They are activated by performing certain types of activities, and sometimes the defect in the abdominal wall is very dangerous and might lead to a sudden and unexpected emergency. Thus, if you suspect you have a hernia, do not delay your diagnosis and come to your doctor right away. A quick examination might be enough to know how bad it is and what can you do about it.