Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes hernias?"
I was working out and now I have a hernia. What happened?
There are many types of hernias including inguinal, umbilical, hiatal, obturator, spigellian, incisional, femoral, and so on and so fourth. A hernia is defined as a condition in which a part of an organ is displaced or protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it. This is usually caused by a weakness in a certain area of your body, or increased pressure, or both.
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Based on your history of lifting weights, I'm assuming you developed an inguinal hernia. Hernias are frequently associated with weight lifting. Lifting heavy weights causes increased intra-abdominal pressures due to strain and tightening of core muscles. The human body has inherently weak points. One of these is the inguinal (groin) region. If enough pressure is exerted, the floor of your pelvic and abdominal cavity can give out at its weakest point and a part of the intra-abdominal contents can slide down through the newly created defect. Most of the time this manifests as pain. However, if you experience fevers, chills, intense pain, nausea, vomiting, or notice a change in your bowel movements in the setting of a hernia, you should seek immediate medical attention. In general, if you're just experiencing some discomfort, you should seek a medical evaluation with a General Surgeon. The hernia can be repaired by a general surgeon. Most uncomplicated inguinal hernias can be repaired in an outpatient setting (meaning you get the surgery and can go home the same day). The reason to repair an inguinal hernia (aside from discomfort) is that there is a risk of getting an organ (most commonly bowel) stuck in the hernia in a way that cuts off its blood supply. This predisposes the incarcerated bowel to die and rupture which leads to infection and may even lead to death. That is why it is very important to repair inguinal hernias. I would strongly urge you to seek an evaluation with a general surgeon to schedule a time to repair the hernia.
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