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These are some of the most common symptoms of hernias in the abdomen and groin.

Feeling a pain in your belly or groin and wondering if you might have a hernia? Here’s how to know if the discomfort you’re feeling may be the result of a hernia—and what to do about it if it is.

What is a hernia?

Before getting into the signs of a hernia, it’s helpful to know what a hernia is. Hernias occur when an organ or tissue is able to push through a weakness in a layer of muscle or tissue that normally contains it. The most common locations for hernias to occur are in the groin and abdomen.

  • Groin – Inguinal hernias are the most common type of hernia and mostly affect men, although women can get them, too. They occur when part of the bowel pushes through the inguinal canal in the groin. Another type of hernia in this area occurs in the femoral canal, which lies underneath the inguinal canal, but these are much less common.
  • Abdomen – Ventral hernias refer to hernias that occur along the midline of your abdomen. This includes incisional hernias, which can occur after abdominal surgery when tissue protrudes through the area where the incision was made. Umbilical hernias may also occur when a portion of the intestine protrudes through an opening in the abdominal wall near the belly button. These are usually present at birth, although pregnancy increases your risk of developing this type of hernia.
What are the symptoms of a hernia?

Different types of hernias may cause different symptoms and some may not cause any symptoms at all.

Some of the most common symptoms of hernias include:

  • A lump or bulge you can see or feel when you’re in certain positions or during certain activities
  • Pressure, pain, aching, tugging or pinching may be felt when the lump or bulge is out
  • Discomfort may worsen when you’re lifting, straining, coughing or laughing
  • The lump or bulge may appear and disappear at different times
  • A bulge may occur without discomfort

In some cases, you may not see or feel a bulge but can still have a hernia

What should you do if you have a hernia?

Hernias may range from mild discomfort to life-threatening, but the one thing they have in common is that they don’t go away on their own. The only way to treat a hernia is to have it surgically repaired. This can usually be done using minimally invasive techniques on an outpatient basis, so you don’t need to stay in the hospital after surgery.

If you suspect you have a hernia, it is best to see a doctor for a diagnosis and to discuss the risks and benefits of surgery. Some people choose to delay surgery if their symptoms are not too severe, but it is usually recommended that surgery be performed to avoid potential complications or further discomfort.


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Date Last Reviewed: April 19, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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