A hernia may be likened to a failure in the sidewall of a pneumatic tire. The tire's inner tube behaves like the organ and the side wall like the body cavity wall providing the restraint. A weakness in the sidewall allows a bulge to develop, which can become a split, allowing the inner tube to protrude, and leading to the eventual failure of the tire. Hernias may present either with pain at the site, a visible or palpable lump, or in some cases by more vague symptoms resulting from pressure on an organ which has become "stuck" in the hernia, sometimes leading to organ dysfunction. Fatty tissue usually enters a hernia first, but it may be followed by or accompanied by an organ.
Hernia occurs when the contents of a body cavity bulge out of the area where they are normally contained. These contents, usually portions of intestine or abdominal fatty tissue, are enclosed in the thin membrane that naturally lines the inside of the cavity. Although the term hernia can be used for bulges in other areas, it most often is used to describe hernias of the lower torso (abdominal wall hernias).
The femoral canal is the path through which the femoral artery, vein, and nerve leave the abdominal cavity to enter the thigh. Although normally a tight space, sometimes it becomes large enough to allow abdominal contents (usually intestine) into the canal. A femoral hernia causes a bulge just below the inguinal crease in roughly the mid-thigh area. Usually occurring in women, femoral hernias are particularly at risk of becoming irreducible (not able to be pushed back into place) and strangulated.
Signs and Symptoms of Hernia
Early on, the hernia may be reducible – the protruding structures can be pushed back gently into their normal places. If those structures, however, can not be returned to their normal locations through manipulation, the hernia is said to be irreducible, or incarcerated.
The vast majority of hiatal hernias are of the sliding type, and most of them are not associated with symptoms. The larger the hernia, the more likely it is to cause symptoms. When sliding hiatal hernias produce symptoms, they almost always are those of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or its complications.
In developing baby boys, a hole in the abdomen allows the testicles to descend into the scrotum. In girls, a similar opening may exist even though the ovaries do not descend out of the abdomen. Normally, this hole closes before a baby is born. A hernia results when a sac protrudes through the opening and the lining of the abdominal cavity.
About five in every 100 children have inguinal hernias. Inguinal hernias in newborns and children result from a deficiency in the abdominal wall that's present at birth. Sometimes the hernia may be visible only when an infant is crying, coughing or training during a bowel movement. In an older child, a hernia is likely to be more noticeable when the child coughs, strains during a bowel movement or stands for a long period of time.
A hiatal hernia by itself rarely causes symptoms – pain and discomfort are usually due to the reflux of gastric acid, air, or bile. Reflux happens more easily in the presence of hiatal hernia, though a hiatal hernia is not the only cause of reflux.
Pain or discomfort in your groin, especially when bending over, coughing or lifting. A heavy or dragging sensation in your groin. Occasionally, in men, pain and swelling in the scrotum around the testicles when the protruding intestine descends into the scrotum