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 and just under the skin, so it can generally be felt as a noticeable bump. A hernia is similar to a hole in a tire, where the inner tube bulges through the tire.

Diagnosing a hernia can be straight forward when there is a noticeable bulge and discomfort.  While many 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 in the shower since gravity pulls contents from inside the abdomen down, making hernias most visible when standing up. 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.