- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Do you have an Inguinal Hernia ??
What is that bump on my abdomen?
When I hit my 45th birthday about a decade ago I was concerned about how my body decided on its' own to loosen up and "head south". You might be able to identify with that same picture. You know when you wake up one morning, take a shower, and stand in front of the bathroom mirror to see the slight beginnings of sagging to your chest, love handles hugging the pelvis, and the loss of a tight buttocks. I was in shear panic!!
I pretty much kept in shape throughout my life with regular lap pool swimming, but somewhere along heading to graduate school, working 60 hours a week, I no longer had routine exercising as top priority. Looking at the beginnings of maturing while standing in front of that mirror convinced me I needed to take drastic action, and I did. I went right on-line and purchased one of those all inclusive work-out machines.
Just as the advertisement mentioned, I marched my way to daily thirty minute work-out sessions and within eight weeks I could see improvement to the tone of my arms, chest, abdomen, and legs. I even noticed my once sagging butt beginning to fill out the back of my pants. Maybe I was too overjoyed but I thought with these results, why not put in more time during the workout sessions and "beef" up the weights. It couldn't hurt, right?
Being so focused on building "the chest to die for", I began to double up the abdominal and pectoral sessions. During one late night work-out session I did more reps than normal which included adding heavier weights for the last set. I know I was not focused on technique or controlling my breathing correctly. One more pull forward and crunch and I could call it a night. That last pull was followed by an intense "burning" sensation in my groin area located to the left side midway between my belly button and my scrotum. The burning lasted for several minutes then subsided. I am not attributing the use of the machine as a cause to this pain, but more responsible was my actions in overdoing too much weight and incorrect body positioning.
Most often, inguinal hernias are caused by the failure of abdominal muscle closure at birth. This type of hernia can be noted sometime after birth or later on in life. The hernia presents as a "bumping out" nodule along the groin or scrotal area and can be either painful or painless. This type of hernia would mostly be noted from routine evaluation during physical exams. Any protruding mass located in the scrotal region should be evaluated promptly due to the potential for obstruction of blood flow to the testicles.
Inguinal hernias are more common to men, but women are not exempt. These hernias appear to be prevalent in people performing heavy labor, such as lifting, bending, or any physical activity causing frequent abdominal pressure (weightlifting). It is thought that most of these cases are due to a weakness in the abdominal musculature which then allows the intestinal tissue to protrude. The most common areas for inguinal hernias are the groin, scrotum, or labia (for women).
I first noticed a small "lump" on my abdomen under the skin. Putting pressure on this area with my finger caused slight discomfort and infrequently made a "bubbling" sound. I also noticed a pulling sensation on my abdominal area when the hernia protruded outward. Two years went by without having any complications except the size of the hernia got larger. This is probably due to my obsession with working out. I began having more frequent discomfort when the hernia seemed to protrude out more and was the size of a lemon, but I could always decompress it back into the abdomen. One day I was jogging and felt increased pain to the hernia area. I sat down and tried to decompress it with little results. The pain seemed to intensify and the hernia tightened. I laid down on the sidewalk and breathing slowly while relaxing the abdominal area was able to push the hernia back into place. Now I knew I needed professional help.
One should always have a physician or Nurse Practitioner evaluate any notable "lump" felt in the groin area. Surgery is not always the immediate treatment but that can be discussed between you and your physician. Any associated symptoms of nausea, vomiting, increased pain, or increased tension to the area should be reported to your physician immediately. I would not recommend waiting as I did because the size of the hernia required a surgical mesh to further reinforce the repaired area. Recovery from this type of surgery can be anywhere from four to six weeks depending on the type of surgical approach and size of area involved.
If you have been advised to have surgical repair, I offer the following helpful tips on your day of surgery: