Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is there any way to check myself for a hernia?"
I have pain in my stomach muscles that I'm worried is a hernia. Is there any way I can check myself to see if I have one and then go to the doctor if I need to?
An abdominal or inguinal hernia can be very common. It is one of the most common reasons for having an operation. It is sometimes difficult to tell whether or not you have a hernia. If you were a thin person, it may be easier to detect a hernia, but even then examination by an expert is often needed. If you have had pain localized to one area of your abdomen and notice a bulge, especially when you are doing a sit-up, there is a good chance that you indeed have an abdominal hernia. Inguinal hernias likewise can present in a similar fashion. Usually pain is in the groin area on the side of the hernia. This pain is often localized. Sometimes if the hernia neck is small, your bowels can get trapped in the hernia sac and are unable to get free. This is called bowel incarceration. When this occurred for a period of hours without resolution, your loop of bowel can get necrosis, die, and you would become very sick. In fact, if this happens you would need emergency surgery (potentially bowel resection) and perhaps even have to get an ostomy bag. If you did not get an emergent operation and the bowel necrosis progressed, you could potentially die. You should schedule a visit with your primary care provider to screen for hernias. If your doctor is uncertain, they will refer you to a local general surgeon.
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