What is a Hernia?
When the muscle wall of the abdomen develops a gap, the organs inside can poke out, and sit underneath the skin. This can happen in the groin (an inguinal or femoral hernia), around the belly button, or at some other less common places. Sometimes old wounds can be the site of the gap, resulting in an inscisional hernia. These can be large, and require more extensive repair than is discussed in this article.
Some hernias occur inside the body: a hiatus hernia is a gap in the diaphragm, allowing the stomach to slip up into the chest and is often associated with reflux. This will be discussed in a separate article.
When contents of the abdomen are in the hernia sac, a lump can often be felt, and is often uncomfortable. Most people are able to gently massage the lump back inside the abdomen, but sometimes it can be more difficult. It is very rare for bowel to be caught in the hernia sac and cause a blockage, or compromise it’s own blood supply. However, if this does happen, the pain will drive the patient to seek emergency medical help, and prompt surgical attention will prevent rupture or infection.