How can I tell if I have a hernia?

In our practice, we see many patients who come in with the complaint “I think I have a hernia”. So, what is a hernia? A hernia is an abnormal opening in the abdominal wall that allows internal abdominal contents to bulge through the hole. Generally, this can be felt as a noticeable bump with possible pain or pressure in that area. A hernia is similar to a hole in a tire, where the inner tube bulges through the tire.

Diagnosing a hernia can be straightforward when there is a noticeable bulge and discomfort. While some hernias cause little or no discomfort, many can be uncomfortable. Most people know they have a hernia because they notice a bulge that is bigger when standing, sitting or coughing and often disappears when they lay down in bed. Most people first notice a hernia when they are in the shower, as gravity pulls contents from inside the abdomen down, making hernias most visible when standing up for prolonged periods of time. Sometimes primary care providers or some specialists may notice a hernia during an annual checkup.

We hope to educate patients about what hernias are, what their options are and when surgery is necessary.


About Dr. Reinhorn & Dr. Fullington

Dr. Michael Reinhorn is a specialist in inguinal hernia and umbilical hernia. He started his practice as a general surgeon in 2001, and in 2012 he transitioned to focus on the care of hernia patients. In 2018, he co-founded Boston Hernia, an ambulatory surgery practice focused exclusively on hernia surgery. In 2020, Dr. Nora Fullington was recruited from her work as a general surgeon, where she performed hundreds of laparoscopic hernia repairs, to Boston Hernia where she was intensively trained by Dr. Reinhorn in the open preperitoneal and Shouldice techniques. Together with their physician assistant team, they perform approximately 800 hernia surgeries every year. Both surgeons offer a tailored approach for each patient, taking into account individual patient factors to decide if surgery is recommended or not, what type of repair (open, laparoscopic, mesh, non-mesh) is best, and what type of anesthesia is safest. At Boston Hernia, our focus is on each individual patient and continuously improving our own surgical techniques and outcomes. We do this by participating in various hernia societies, studying our own outcomes through a national database, and publishing our data to influence the care of hernia patients nationally and internationally. Boston Hernia is an affiliate practice of the Mass General Brigham system. In addition to operating at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, a Mass General Brigham Hospital, we offer care at ambulatory surgery centers in Waltham, MA and Derry, NH.