The symptoms of a hernia are usually distinct and a hernia specialist such as Dr. Lublin will be able to identify the presence of a hernia in the abdomen. Abdominal hernias are not necessarily painful, may cause intermittent symptoms, and can regress in the early stages of development.
Bulges, Lumps or swelling
"Generally, any activity that increases the pressure in the abdomen such as exercising, standing, or straining will result in a bulge, if a hernia is present."
A bulge or lump in the abdominal wall is common to almost all hernias. The location of the bulge will define what type of hernia it is. The bulge or lump can be small and look like generalized swelling.
Most patients realize they have a hernia when they feel a bulge, even without associated pain. The bulge may always be present or intermittent, depending on the patient’s activity.
For example, protruding intestinal tissue may recede when the patient lies down.
Pain and Discomfort
Pain, aches, and discomfort in the area of a hernia may also be present. However, this is not always the case, especially in a newly formed hernia. The pain may be more severe when the patient is lifting heavy objects, straining the abdominal muscles, or standing for a long time and is usually a result of the abdominal contents getting momentarily caught or pinched in the hernia.
However, there are times where the nerve bundles in the area of a hernia are irritated, which can lead to referred pain – pain in other areas of the abdomen that are not herniated. This is because nerves generally supply multiple areas of the body.
For example, an inguinal or a groin hernia will cause discomfort in a man’s scrotum or a woman’s labia. Pain can even travel to the back, upper leg and elsewhere.
Severe Pain (Strangulation)
Severe and continuous pain with redness and tenderness in the area are signs of a strangulated hernia. This condition can also cause generalized pain throughout the abdominal area.
A strangulated hernia is an emergency situation that requires immediate attention.
As the abdominal contents, usually the small intestine, are squeezed and trapped in the hernia, called incarceration, the organ becomes strangulated and blood flow to the area is lost. This condition can be fatal.
"DO NOT ignore your hernia because the pain may have gone away. Hernias, once formed, do not repair themselves. Ignoring a hernia can make subsequent attacks more likely and can cause serious complications."
If you believe you may have a hernia, you should see a qualified medical professional. While pain in the abdomen can be a hernia there are also non-hernia-related conditions as well.