The muscles of the body enable the body to move. They also help keep tissues and organs in their place within the body. Body muscles are generally firm and taut. However, it is possible for a muscle to become slack and weak. When this happens, tissues can sometimes force their way way or between two muscles and create a bulge. This bulge of soft tissue is called a hernia. Hernias can be found in many parts of the body but they usually occur in the abdominal wall. The main symptom of a hernia is a large lump or swelling. It may build gradually over a period of weeks or form suddenly when exercising or lifting heavy objects. A hernia may also be accompanied by a feeling of tenderness of heaviness. Some hernias, depending upon location, carry a risk of obstruction of strangulation.
One of the most common types of hernias is a hiatus hernia. In the body there is a sheet of muscles that separate the chest from the abdomen. When a hernia occurs in this muscle wall it is called a hiatus hernia. Another hernia that occurs in the abdominal wall is a paraumbilical hernia. The hernia develops in the muscles of the abdominal wall that surround the navel. The bulge appears as though it is at the navel. Women are more likely than men to have this type hernia. The bulge from an epigastric hernia will show up somewhere along the line between the navel and the breastbone. This type is more common in men. The bulge is small but it can be painful and may cause indigestion. Overweight women who have had a large number of children may develop a femoral hernia. This occurs in the groin. An Inguinal hernia also develops in the groin however the risks of strangulation or obstruction are low with this type of hernia. Any lump, bulge or swilling on your body should be examined by a physician. If the diagnosis is a hernia, surgery will probably be recommended, as hernias tend to gradually worsen over time. Also if the hernia is of the type that carries a risk of strangulation or obstruction, hernia repair will avoid emergency surgery at a later date. The operation to repair a hernia is known as a herniorrhaphy. The patient is given either a local or general anesthetic. Then the surgeon makes a small incision over the bulge and pushes the tissues back into place. Once this is accomplished, the muscles are sewn firmly together. The surgery usually takes about an hour.
The area where the surgery was performed will be painful and painkillers are usually needed. The patient is encouraged to walk on either the day or day after the surgery. The length of the stay in the hospital depends upon the type of hernia that is being repaired.
Convalescence from the surgery may require from one to six weeks, again depending upon the type of hernia. However, all patients will be advised to avoid heavy lifting for approximately twelve weeks.